BBC Trust Unit publishes Public Value Assessment of BBC's HDTV proposals

Date: 18.09.2007     Last updated: 23.09.2014 at 09.48
Category: BBC HD
The BBC Trust Unit today published its Public Value Assessment (PVA) of the BBC's proposals for a high definition television channel.

The PVA is one part of the Public Value Test (PVT) that the BBC Trust is conducting into the BBC Executive's proposals for a HDTV channel. The Market Impact Assessment (MIA), carried out by Ofcom and also published today, forms another part.

The Trust will consider the PVA and the MIA before reaching its provisional conclusions on the proposals. These are due to be published on Tuesday 25 September.

The PVA concluded overall that the service proposal would deliver a medium to high level of public value, but proposed some conditions.

Christopher Woolard, Head of Finance, Economics, and Strategy for the BBC Trust, said:

"The PVA concludes that the proposed service would significantly promote the BBC's public purpose of ‘helping to deliver to the public the benefit of emerging communications and services’. However, the PVA highlights some issues about the relative public value of a more limited service on DTT compared to other platforms.

"The Trust will consider these findings along with those in Ofcom's MIA document before reaching its provisional conclusions, which we expect to publish on Tuesday 25 September."

The BBC Executive's proposals

The BBC Executive's proposals are for a mixed-genre, high definition TV channel. The Executive's intention is to launch the service on digital satellite, digital cable and digital terrestrial television (DTT or Freeview). There are two key variations within the proposal regarding these platforms:

  • Satellite and cable: the proposal is for a nine-hour service broadcasting from 15.00 to midnight, with some flexibility to extend beyond this to allow coverage of significant live sport or other events.
  • DTT: two options are proposed - (i) after digital switchover a full nine-hour service as described above or in the meantime (ii) a four-hour schedule broadcasting overnight between 02.00 and 06.00.

Due to spectrum capacity constraints, the Executive would need to take down from DTT BBC Parliament, BBC Four and three BBCi streams between the hours of 02.00 and 06.00 to create capacity for the overnight schedule in option (ii). This action would be intended as an interim measure until spectrum capacity allows for the introduction of a nine-hour service on DTT.

PVA conclusions

The PVA concluded overall that the service proposal would deliver a medium to high level of public value and stated that there would be value in launching the proposed service in the immediate future. In addition to promoting the digital purpose, Trust research shows a significant proportion of the audience would value the proposed service.

The service would also deliver good value for money, according to the PVA, which said its cost was relatively low compared to the value created from the service.

However, the PVA raised some concerns about the relative public value offered in terms of the reach, quality and distinctiveness of a four hour service on DTT. For this reason, the PVA recommends that it would be preferable for the BBC to deliver a nine-hour service on DTT equivalent to that on cable and satellite at the earliest opportunity within the BBC's existing DTT capacity. Much will depend on Ofcom's proposed re-organisation of broadcast multiplexes and therefore a review of HD on DTT should be made in early 2008 when Ofcom's position will be clearer.

The PVA also recommends that, in the event of the proposals receiving approval, certain service conditions should be considered to safeguard the public value of the proposals put forward and to help strive for greater public value.

These are:

  • The service should launch on Sky and digital cable platforms as soon as possible after any PVT decision and on Freesat from platform launch.
  • The channel should broadcast the best of HD content from other BBC channels between 19.30 and 22.00 and not just simulcast BBC One.
  • The operation of any DTT service should comply with the BBC Parliament service licence and commitments previously given to Parliament.
  • The service should be reviewed after 2012 following digital switchover.

Following the publication of the BBC Trust's provisional conclusions, there will be a four week period of public consultation. The Trust expects to publish its final decision on the BBC Executive's proposals for a BBC HDTV channel on or before Wednesday 21 November.

Notes to Editors

Timetable for the HDTV PVT

21 May 2007 PVT commenced.

22 May 2007 Joint Trust/Ofcom stakeholder briefing.

Public Value Assessment (PVA) and Market Impact Assessment (MIA) representations opened.

19 June 2007 PVA and MIA representations closed.

18 Sept 2007 Publication of PVA and MIA.

25 Sept 2007 Publication of Trust's provisional conclusions.

Consultation on the Trust's provisional conclusions opens.

23 Oct 2007 Consultation on the Trust's provisional conclusions closes.

21 Nov 2007 Latest date for publication of the Trust's final decision.

Documents relating to the HD PVT are available on the BBC Trust website. The BBC Trust Unit is the independent unit that supports and assists the BBC Trust.