BBC: Could Share iPlayer With ITV, Channel 4

Also looking to create standards for on-demand IPTV.

Nigh-on a year after its launch, there’s no denying the BBC iPlayer has become hugely successful, vastly overshadowing the competition’s best efforts to compete. Now, the BBC is offering to share the technology behind the iPlayer with ITV, Channel 4 and Five, BBC Director General commenting that the BBC should “share the benefits of its scale and security with the rest of the industry.”

This proposal is just one of several the BBC is making. Other include a potential opening of local news facilities to other broadcasters, the removal of charges for magazines and newspapers to print BBC listings and plans to collaborate with ITV and BT on IPTV delivery. The latter should see a set of common standards developed for delivery of broadcast TV content to set-top boxes on an on-demand basis.

According to the BBC, these proposals are being set forth in recognition of the challenges facing public service broadcasting in the future. After the completion of the UK’s digital switchover in 2012 public service broadcasters currently afforded the luxury of relatively little competition will suddenly have many more channels to rival. As such, public service broadcasting is going to have to step up its game and ITV, Channel 4 and Five arguably don’t quite have the reputation afforded to the BBC (or the breadth of quality programming if you ask me) to make that an easy challenge.

The BBC believes the proposals it has set out will be worth £120 million to public service broadcasters by 2014, which seems pretty good going. According to Mark Thompson, “through partnerships I believe broadcasters can help secure the future of public service broadcasting in this country.” BBC Trust Chairman, Sir Michael Lyons, also weighed in on the proposals, saying: “We were looking for ideas that would offer substantial and sustainable new value for the industry and – just as important – for audiences.”

Channel 4 Chief Executive, Andy Duncan, was less enthusiastic saying: “this is overdue recognition from the BBC that it should be using its privileged position to help support the broader public service ecology. However, with the exception of the suggested partnership with BBC Worldwide, we don’t believe these proposals offer any tangible financial benefit for Channel 4.”

Duncan also added: “we do not share their view that this particular proposal could deliver an immediate and sizeable financial upside.”

Food for thought, certainly…


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