BBC and Pact agree deal that paves way for BBC Store

John Pertwee as Doctor Who and a dalek, 1972 Standalone episodes of Doctor Who will be available for download to own under plans for BBC Store

The BBC and the indie sector have struck a deal that will pave the way for extending iPlayer's catch-up window to 30 days and for BBC Store.

The agreement with Pact - the UK trade association representing indies - means that more BBC-originated content will be made available for licence-fee payers than ever before, subject to approval by the BBC Trust.

At the moment about 90% of BBC content disappears after broadcast, and is rarely seen again. But the agreement will reverse this, making nearly all BBC original content, including programmes made by indies, available on iPlayer or to download and keep for a fee through BBC Store. This does exclude acquisitions and areas with complicated rights arrangements such as sport.

People in the UK will be able to pay for a classic natural history programme from the 1970s or all the episodes of Doctor Who.

'Fantastic opportunity'

Bal Samra, the BBC's commercial director, whose team was instrumental in driving the deal, tells Ariel that it's a 'fantastic opportunity' for both consumers and audiences 'to take great pleasure from the content we produce now and in the past'.

'This deal will provide real value for licence fee payers, as well as increased access to the BBC content they love, with more opportunities to watch BBC content for longer, find and buy digital programmes to keep, and discover gems from the BBC's archive,' he says.

BBC Bal Samra and John McVay from Pact seal the deal

The new agreement will not affect global sales of DVDs - less than 10% of original BBC content excluding sport is released in DVD form. The corporation's relationship with providers such as Netflix and Loveflim, which offer some BBC content to paid subscribers, will also be unaffected.

BBC Store, Samra clarifies, will only be available for the UK and is not subscription-based. 'We would still have subscription models in the marketplace - and Netflix and Loveflim would still continue and they are doing very well.' The plan is to add to the range of content people get and from the places they can get it.

Timeframe unclear

The timeframe for BBC Store is still unclear, with Samra unable to say whether it will come to fruition in months or even a year from now. There still is regulatory work, rights clearance, the technology and getting the right mix of programming among some of the priorities.

The cost to a consumer who wants to download a BBC drama series, for instance, is still being calculated, but it's based around the 'principle' that it will be marketplace pricing, says the commercial director.

A key part of the deal was agreeing a reduction in the cost of airing BBC repeats. 'That's a good thing for us because it makes it more cost effective for us to show some of that content again on our channels,' says Samra. 'That doesn't necessarily mean we are going to do more repeats, but the cost of our repeats will go down.'

And more BBC content will be made available to the UK secondary market - that includes broadcasters such as UKTV and Dave - faster.

'Good deal'

John McVay, the chief executive of Pact, said in a statement that indies now produce 'over 40% of television content for the BBC'. He added: 'This is a good deal for the indies that will help UK creative companies to better exploit their programmes on other digital platforms and sustain the commercial success of the world's most successful independent sector.'

Director of tv Danny Cohen also welcomed the news: 'I'm delighted with what Bal and his team have delivered through these negotiations, allowing a much wider range of content available on the iPlayer - our fifth channel in the TV portfolio, together with a completely new model for a paid-for service, delivering a greater return for the creators of intellectual property who work for the BBC - the producers and artists.'

BBC Store and the 30-day catch-up window for iPlayer were part of director general Tony Hall's vision for the BBC, delivered in his speech Where Next? earlier this month.


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