Ofcom market impact assessment for BBC iPlayer

Ofcom report (168 pages, PDF) on the likely market impact of the proposed BBC iPlayer service (on-demand online television and non-DRM audio downloads).

Ofcom recommends that, for online access to TV programmes after broadcast, "the 13-week storage window should either be removed or substantially reduced". Ofcom also suggests limitations of the "series stacking" facility, which would allow viewers to access previous episodes in a series beyond the usual seven-day window. Ofcom considers that it would make the BBC service "a more direct substitute for commercial services", and suggests limiting series stacking to cases where there is a strong plot line linking a maximum of 12 episodes over 12 weeks. "If it is not possible to specify a workable method of substantially reducing the scope of series stacking, then for precautionary reasons [Ofcom] would recommend that series stacking should be excluded altogether."

Ofcom also suggests removing book readings and some live classical music from the BBC's proposed audio podcasting services.

Regarding DRM for television services, Ofcom states that:

"We note that the BBC's internet TV services will initially use Microsoft's Windows Media Player 10 and associated DRM solution, although there are plans to develop a Real Player alternative in the near future. We consider that the extension to Real Player will be important to lessen the potential impact on the market for media player and DRM software. It will also have the benefit of extending service availability to users of other operating systems such as Apple's OS X. "

For further information or advice please contact Nicholas Francis.

Filed under BBC, DRM, Media, Ofcom.

Reckon LLP is an economics consultancy with expertise in data analysis, economic regulation and competition law.

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