BBC Trust OKs iPlayer - with caveats


LONDON -- The BBC Trust has given the greenlight to plans to launch a BBC-branded interactive media player but has cut the time the service can store TV shows and imposed restrictions on series stacking, which allows viewers to record an entire series after the final episode has aired.

The pubcaster will now open a consultation period lasting until March 28 to discuss the proposed iPlayer with commercial parties, the public and BBC bosses, before making its final recommendations in May.

The proposals were announced Tuesday by the Trust -- the BBC's governing body -- and echo recommendations made by Ofcom last week as part of the media regulator's market impact assessment into the iPlayer.

The Trust has limited the time that television shows can be stored on the system from the 13 weeks BBC bosses had originally requested to just 30 days after Ofcom warned of potential damage to the DVD market.

On the series stacking side, long-running shows including soaps "EastEnders" and "Holby City" and popular factual programs such as "Top Gear" will be among the programs viewers will not be able to record all at once.

However, high-end dramas such as "Bleak House," series like "Doctor Who" and landmark natural history shows including "Planet Earth" will meet the criteria.

The Trust also will require the iPlayer -- which currently uses Microsoft technology -- to become platform agnostic.

"The BBC Trust has a duty to ensure the public receives value in return for paying the license fee," said Diane Coyle, BBC trustee and chair of the public value test steering group.

"Our view is that the BBC's new on-demand services are likely to deliver significant public value, and should be allowed to proceed, but subject to certain conditions in order to reduce the potential negative market impact."
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