The BBC Trust has approved proposals from the BBC Executive to launch a new online commercial service for audiences to buy and keep BBC programmes.
BBC Store will allow users to buy new programmes 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 is 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 UK public services. 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 sought advice from Ofcom as part of this process. Ofcom identified some areas of potential impact from the changes to iPlayer. As suggested by them, the Trust conducted further analysis in each of these areas and concluded that the proposed changes did not trigger the requirement for a Public Value Test. Its findings are published below.
“The BBC needs to respond to significant changes in the way audiences now buy programmes,” says Suzanna Taverne, lead trustee on the assessment. “The creation of BBC Store will enable it to do so, and to release a greater selection of classic shows from the BBC archive.”