Trust consults on its fair trading policy

Date: 30.07.2015     Last updated: 08.09.2016 at 12.13

The Trust has today begun a public consultation asking for the views of industry and other interested parties as part of a review of its fair trading policy.

The review considers whether any changes or clarifications need to be made to the Trust’s existing fair trading policy or to the competitive impact code on cross promotion, which relates to how the BBC promotes its own programming across its services.

It follows two previous reviews in 2007 (when the Trust's fair trading regime was first established) and 2011.

The review seeks to ensure that the Trust’s fair trading policies continue to be relevant and effective, that they comply with the law and reflect learning and best practice when dealing with fair trading issues.

As part of its review process, the Trust commissioned an independent report from Fingleton Associates, which looked at the BBC’s current fair trading regime, taking account of views from industry.

Fingleton Associates’ report found that the BBC’s fair trading policy and framework is comprehensive and well-designed to achieve compliance with the law.

The report also found that the implementation of the fair trading obligation is adequate, with the BBC Executive having a number of well-established measures in place to ensure compliance and awareness within the Corporation.

The Fingleton Associates’ report makes a number of recommendations and in its consultation document the Trust addresses these and outlines where it agrees improvements to the current system could be made.

The Trust’s consultation document includes questions covering the design, implementation and effect of the Trust’s fair trading arrangements.

Based on Fingleton Associates’ recommendations the Trust proposes to:

-       Ensure that in the updated policy there is greater clarity over the respective roles of the Trust and BBC Executive as regards fair trading.

-       Ensure the updated policy is written in clear and simple language and there is improved signposting to the fair trading sections on the BBC Executive and Trust’s websites.

-       Oversee the BBC Executive’s handling of all fair trading complaints from start to finish and remain the final point of appeal.

-       Increase the frequency of reviews of certain BBC services to assess any market impact issues arising from services such as the iPlayer, which evolve over time.

-       To make clearer, when revising the fair trading documents, what information it expects to be published by the BBC Executive about its commercial service subsidiaries and about the relationships that exist between them and the public service side of the BBC.

BBC Trustee Suzanna Taverne, who is leading the review, said:

“Part of the Trust’s role in to ensure the impact on the market of what the BBC does is fully considered. That’s the point of our fair trading policy.

“We want to hear from the industry and licence fee payers whether they think the current policy is fit for purpose and I would encourage anyone with a view to get in touch.”   

The Trust is consulting until the 9 October and would welcome views on any aspect of its fair trading policy and the changes which it has proposed to make as set out above. 

The Trust will consider all the responses it receives before publishing its revised fair trading policy before the end of 2015. A summary of the consultation responses it receives and those from industry or industry bodies will be published alongside this.

Indicative timetable

Summer/autumn 2014 - Selection of independent consultant.  Research, Fieldwork, Stakeholder Engagement and detailed scoping work.

Spring 2015 - Submission of consultant’s final report to Trust.

Summer/autumn 2015 - Publication consultation.

Autumn/winter 2015 - Publication of updated Fair Trading Policies and Framework.