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LONDON – The BBC Trust, the public broadcaster’s governing body, gave the thumbs up to proposals from the BBC executive to launch an online commercial service for audiences to buy and keep BBC programs.
BBC Store will allow users to buy new programs 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 will stand 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 U.K. public services funded by the British taxpayer.
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 asked U.K. media watchdog Ofcom to contribute to the assemment.
Ofcom identified some areas of potential impact from the changes to iPlayer.
On the back of Ofcom concerns, the Trust conducted further analysis and decided the proposals did not require a public value test.
Suzanna Taverne, lead trustee on the assessment, said: “The BBC needs to respond to significant changes in the way audiences now buy programs. The creation of BBC Store will enable it to do so, and to release a greater selection of classic shows from the BBC archive.”
It means the output of the U.K. broadcasting output will now be put in the digital download-to-own arena with viewers set to snap up output such as Sherlock, Doctor Who and such set to be offered from the virtual shelves.
“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 license fee and promises to bring value not only to audiences but also to the wider creative industries,” a statement from the BBC Trust noted.
There is no date set for launching the service but the BBC Trust greenlight will set the wheels turning briskly.
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