Ofcom has warned the BBC that some aspects of its plans for video-on-demand over the Internet “would not be in the long-term public interest”. The BBC plans to make all its TV and radio shows downloadable via the Internet, for a 13-week window following the broadcast date. Ofcom believes this would be so popular as to harm DVD sales and limit investment by commercial rivals.
Ofcom’s view is
Series stacking, (the ability to store and view an entire series of programmes), could discourage investment in commercial on-demand services and is likely to have an adverse effect on related markets such as DVD rentals and sales. Ofcom believes the scale of series stacking should therefore be substantially reduced or excluded altogether;
In the case of catch-up TV on the internet, the ability to store programmes for up to 13 weeks could have negative effects on competition and therefore investment in consumer choice. Ofcom believes this storage window should be reduced or removed. In the event of removal, viewers would still have up to 14 days to download and view the content;
the ability to download free BBC audio content might have a serious adverse impact on specific markets; notably commercial classical music recordings and audio books. Ofcom believes the latter should be excluded from the proposed services and the availability of classical music recordings should either be constrained or removed; and
the cost of providing extra broadband capacity to deliver the BBC’s proposed services to consumers is likely to be high, though any additional capacity would also be available for use by a wide range of other services including commercial on-demand services.
The BBC’s multicast service for live broadcasting over the Internet is scheduled to go live in mid 2007, subject to approval by the BBC Trust.