Ofcom is inviting feedback on our analysis and provisional views relating to the BBC’s proposal to increase its catalogue of older content on BBC iPlayer.
Our job, as required by the Charter and Agreement, is to ensure that changes the BBC wishes to make to its publicly funded TV, radio and online services do not inappropriately harm competition. To do this, we first need to judge whether a proposed change is ‘material’ – that is, whether it may have a significant adverse impact on fair and effective competition.
Since 2019, audiences have been able to access programmes on BBC iPlayer for 12 months from broadcast as standard. Older programmes are also available – for example past series of returning titles – but the BBC currently limits their availability. Under its proposals the BBC is proposing to no longer apply these limits and increase the amount of older content on BBC iPlayer.
The evidence available suggests that the impact on other competitor broadcasters will be limited. So we are minded to agree with the BBC Board’s findings, following its public interest test, that the proposals do not represent a material change.
This is based on assessing the risks to competition over a reasonable timeframe and does not imply setting limits on how much of such content the BBC could add. We have been clear with the BBC, however, that it will still be required to consider whether future changes to BBC iPlayer could have a material impact on competition.
Responses to today’s consultation must be submitted by 14 November 2022. If, having considered that feedback, we remain of the view that the proposal is not material, the BBC may go ahead and implement the change. Should we conclude the change is material, the plans will be subject to further scrutiny by Ofcom.