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BBC to Review Participation in U.K. Internet TV Venture YouView

Chris Patten P
BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten

Amid continued public scrutiny of its operations, the BBC Trust governing body will examine that the public broadcaster's participation "is meeting the conditions set" by it.

LONDON – The BBC Trust, the governing body of the BBC, is reviewing the British public broadcaster's role in Internet TV venture YouView amid continued public scrutiny of its operations.

The Trust said it would, by the fall, examine "how well the BBC’s involvement in broadband television service YouView is meeting the conditions set by the Trust." In June of 2010, the Trust had approved the BBC’s decision to join other industry players in YouView under certain conditions.

Back then, it argued that the venture would provide value for U.K. taxpayers who are paying an annual license fee to fund the BBC. However, pay TV firms BSkyB and Virgin Media criticized the BBC's involvement. "The BBC's involvement ... is an unnecessary use of public funds," BSkyB, in which Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox owns a 39 percent stake, said back then.

The BBC Trust, led by chairman Chris Patten, on Tuesday didn't immediately say what issues the review would focus on.
 
YouView, whose other venture partners are ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and telecom firms BT, Talk Talk and Arqiva, launched its online on-demand TV service in July of 2012 after major delays. The original plan had been a launch in late 2010.

The YouView service allows viewers with a broadband connection to catch up on shows and access on-demand TV apps, such as the BBC iPlayer, in addition to live TV channels. Users don't need a contract or pay any subscription fees, but there is a one-off payment for a set-top box.

The BBC Trust previously said that the venture would cost more than $176 million (£115 million) in its first four years of operation.

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai