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BBC Trust and iPlayer syndication

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Rahul Chakkara Rahul Chakkara | 15:50 UK time, Monday, 21 December 2009

This morning the BBC Trust published its findings in relation to a complaint about the BBC's iPlayer syndication policy. As the executive in charge of bringing the service to TV platforms, I wanted to give you a bit of background to this.

As we've said before, we aim to make the BBC iPlayer available to as wide an audience as is technically possible and economically feasible. At launch, almost two years ago now, the service was only a Windows-based product on the web.

But since then, we've now syndicated the BBC iPlayer to no fewer than 25 different devices and platforms. On TV, we have made BBC iPlayer available to the audience of Virgin Media, PS3, Nintendo Wii, Cello's iViewer last week, and (in Beta) on Freesat.

This process will accelerate in the New Year, with more and more internet-connected TV devices entering what is a fragmented market with varying standards. Instead of making a bespoke product for each device, we have chosen a way that we believe represents the best value to licence fee payers - we will make available a set of standard products to all; making investment in bespoke products only where high audience reach can be achieved.

Back in March, a company called IP Vision made a formal complaint to the BBC after we declined support for a product they were developing for their Fetch TV box. After the BBC Executive's Fair Trading Complaints Panel rejected the complaint in May, IP Vision appealed to the BBC Trust, which published its findings and conclusions today.

The Trust has rejected the main substantive points of the appeal, but, in terms of process, we do note that they have ruled that we should have assessed the competitive impact of our decision.

We also note the Trust's view that October's clarification of our syndication guidelines represented a change in policy that should have been ratified by the Trust. The clarification will now be considered as part of the Trust's review of the BBC's on-demand syndication policy, which begins in January 2010. We will rely on our pre-existing policy until the Trust complete their review.

It has been a great year for our audience as they access BBC iPlayer on multiple platforms - on PCs, mobile and TV. I look forward to building on this success next year with more platforms and devices.

Rahul Chakkara is Controller, TV Platforms, BBC FM&T.


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  • Comment number 4.

    I find this post amusing because XBMC's iPlayer plugin is free, which is about as cost-effective to the license payer as can be. Also, it was ALREADY cross-platform.

    I'm still having trouble grasping why more hasn't been done to help the people who developed it, free of charge, because they love the BBC's programming. Aren't those the sort of people you want to encourage, rather than paying corporate ones who probably don't to develop a standardised system of cross-platform content delivery? I always assumed the Beeb was all about encouraging and developing young talent. That was certainly the impression I got when I browsed job vacancies, but I suppose in the end they're nothing but pretty words that get lost in the corporate din.

    Oh well. If the BBC wanted to encourage file-sharing by discontinuing support for XBMC with their thoughtless implementation of SWF - something that could have been mentioned to the developers ahead of time so the program could be whitelisted, seeing as it remains true to the T&Cs of iPlayer etc, then they have succeeded. Ironic that something designed to enhance security around use of their content digitally will probably just cause a minor increase in piracy anyway.

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