BBC Modifies Web-TV Plans

To remain "platform agnostic," the broadcaster will create digital rights management options for Linux and Apple users

The BBC has announced its web TV plan will provisionally go ahead, despite concern from media watchdog Ofcom over how the launch would affect the UK's commercial telly.

The BBC Trust, which governs the Beeb, has amended its proposals for the web TV service in light of the regulators fears that such a service from Auntie would cause a drop in DVD sales and rentals.

Diane Coyle, BBC trustee, said in a statement: "Our view is that the BBC's new on-demand services are likely to deliver significant public value, and should be allowed to proceed but subject to certain conditions in order to reduce the potential negative market impact."

One of Ofcom's objections to the original proposals was the BBC's plan to offer 'series stacking', where viewers would be able to store and watch the entire run of a programme. Under Auntie's revised scheme, some programming is likely to be excluded.

The BBC has also trimmed the amount of time Auntie's viewers can keep programmes they have downloaded. Originally the Beeb had intended to allow users to store shows for 13 weeks. Ofcom called for a limit of two weeks. The BBC's revised proposals have settled on an upper limit of 30 days.

Auntie will also now tackle the thorny question of DRM. To date, Windows Media Audio has been in the frame as the BBC's favourite scheme for digital lockdown. The Trust has committed to being 'platform agnostic' and will work up some DRM options for Apple and Linux users within "a reasonable timeframe".

Unfortunately for classical music lovers, the BBC's classical recording will not form part of its DRM-free offerings as the broadcaster believes that so doing could have a negative effect on commercial offerings.

The BBC Trust's assessment said: "Where Ofcom has made recommendations for modifications designed to minimise negative market impact, the Trust has accepted these."

The Trust is now calling for the public's opinion on its amended web TV proposals and will come to a final decision on the download service at the start of May.

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