BBC Trust approves proposals for BBC Store

Date: 27.02.2014     Last updated: 23.09.2014 at 09.48

Today, the BBC Trust has announced it has approved proposals from the BBC Executive to launch a new online commercial service for audiences to buy and keep BBC programmes.

BBC Store will allow users to buy new programmes and a selection of content from the BBC archives, on a download-to-own basis. BBC Worldwide, the BBC's commercial arm, will establish and run the service. BBC Store is distinct from BBC iPlayer, which will remain a free catch-up service funded by the licence fee.  

As a commercial service, Trust approval of BBC Store was based on an analysis of public value, commercial efficiency, the potential reputational impact on the BBC, and compliance with competition and state aid rules. As part of its assessment, the Trust secured independent economic and state aid advice.

While the proposal is for a commercial service, it involves changes to BBC iPlayer, one of the UK public services. As a result, in addition to the commercial service approval, the Trust carried out a separate assessment to establish whether the proposed changes to BBC iPlayer that arose as a result of BBC Store were significant and required a Public Value Test – the regulatory process for any proposed new BBC service. The Trust sought advice from Ofcom as part of this process. Ofcom identified some areas of potential impact from the changes to iPlayer. As suggested by them, the Trust conducted further analysis in each of these areas and concluded that the proposed changes did not trigger the requirement for a Public Value Test. Its findings are published below.

Suzanna Taverne, lead trustee on the assessment, said:

"The BBC needs to respond to significant changes in the way audiences now buy programmes. The creation of BBC Store will enable it to do so, and to release a greater selection of classic shows from the BBC archive.

"In considering BBC Store, the Trust conducted a robust assessment and sought the advice of external parties. It concluded that BBC Store is a worthwhile commercial service that supplements what the BBC makes available through the licence fee and promises to bring value not only to audiences but also to the wider creative industries."

The Trust’s regulatory assessment can be found below:

BBC Store regulatory approval, PDF (508KB)

The advice provided by Ofcom on the potential 'impact on others' of the changes to BBC iPlayer can be found below:

Ofcom - BBC Store

The changes to the service licence for BBC Online and Red Button can be found below:

Service licence variations, PDF (85KB)

The RBB report commissioned by the Trust as part of its assessment of BBC Store can be found below. We have redacted a small amount of information from the published document. This is because disclosing it would either be commercially prejudicial, or would inhibit the provision of free and frank advice. The redactions are clearly marked.

RBB Economics - Transfer Price for the "BBC Store": Economic Assessment of Compatibility with EU State Aid Rules, PDF (278KB)

Notes to editors

The BBC Executive’s proposal to extend the catch up window from seven to 30 days is subject to BBC Trust approval and will be considered at a later date. However, the cumulative effects of an extended 30-day window was factored into the analysis of BBC Store. The Trust considered this was likely to be slight and did not affect the overall decision on impact.

The Trust is awaiting formal proposals from the BBC Executive for future plans to BBC iPlayer, which will be subject to Trust approval.

Commercial services approval

The regulatory procedure for the approval of commercial services is different from the process followed for public services. Under the Charter and Agreement, all commercial services must meet all of the following criteria:

  • they must fit with the BBC’s Public Purpose activities
  • they must exhibit commercial efficiency
  • they must not jeopardise the good reputation of the BBC or the value of its brand
  • they must comply with fair trading guidelines in force and in particular avoid distorting the market.