BBC plan just what the Doctor ordered/BBC's download plans get backing
- BBC plan just what the Doctor ordered
February 01, 2007 12:00am
Article from: MX
Coming sooner ... Fans of BBC shows such as
Doctor Who, Little Britain or Planet Earth could
get their fix long before local networks want,
with the broadcaster set to make episodes available for download.
DOCTOR WHO fans stuck in a Down Under TV timewarp
will soon be able to get their fix online and almost up to date.
The BBC has taken the first steps towards making
shows such as Doctor Who available for download on the internet.
The on-demand proposal, which would allow viewers
to watch popular programs online or download them
to a home computer up to a week after they are
broadcast, could dent ratings for Australian TV
networks that screen BBC shows.
Fans of shows such as Planet Earth, Two Pints of
Lager and a Packet of Crisps and the Shakespeare
series would be able to watch or download them on
the BBC's long-awaited iPlayer.
BBC's hit comedies Little Britain and Extras may also be considered.
A program would remain playable for 30 days after
being downloaded or seven days after being watched.
The BBC has not yet confirmed which shows would
be available, although Doctor Who has been
recommended, or what the download costs would be.
University of Technology Sydney communications
expert Dr Mike Minehan said the iPlayer could
damage ratings on Australian networks.
"It probably will affect their audience," he said.
"Mind you, Doctor Who fans, I don't think there's
anything else like them . . . it's likely they will watch both forms."
Dr Minehan said more TV networks would follow the
BBC's lead in allowing downloads.
"This has to be part of a new trend," he said.
BBC's download plans get backing
TV shows like Doctor Who are expected to be
available for download later this year after the
BBC Trust gave initial approval to the BBC's on-demand plans.
Under the proposals, viewers will be able to
watch popular programmes online or download them
to a home computer up to a week after they are broadcast.
But the trust imposed tough conditions on
classical music, which could stop a repeat of the BBC's Beethoven podcasts.
Full approval of the on-demand plans will follow a two-month consultation.
After that, the BBC will be able to launch its
long-awaited iPlayer, a computer application
which allows audiences to watch or download any
programme from the last seven days.
A programme will remain playable for 30 days
after being downloaded or seven days after being watched.
The BBC Trust, an independent body that replaced
the corporation's governors at the beginning of
2007, said the on-demand plans - which also cover
cable TV - were "likely to deliver significant public value".
But it agreed with broadcasting watchdog Ofcom,
which said earlier this month that the iPlayer
could have a "negative effect" on commercial rivals.
As a result, the trust has imposed several conditions on the BBC.
It wants the corporation to scale back plans to
let downloaded "catch-up" episodes remain on
users' hard drives for 13 weeks, suggesting that 30 days is enough.
Chris Woolard, head of finance, economics and
strategy at the Trust, defended the decision to cut the storage time.
When people record a programme at home "if they
don't look at it within 48 hours, they don't look at it at all", he said.
But some shows will be able to remain on a
viewer's computer beyond the standard seven-day
window using a feature called series stacking.
Every episode of a "stacked" series would be made
available until a week after transmission of the final instalment.
Trustees said the BBC needed to be clearer about
which programmes would be offered on this service
- but suggested "landmark" series "with a
beginning and end", like Planet Earth or Doctor Who, should be eligible.
The trust also asked the BBC to explore ways of
introducing parental controls to its on-demand
services, as it is worried at the "heightened
risk of children being exposed to post-watershed material".
Podcasts also came under scrutiny, with the Trust
recommending that audio books and classical music
be excluded from the BBC's download services.
"There is a potential negative market impact if
the BBC allows listeners to build an extensive
library of classical music that will serve as a
close substitute for commercially available downloads or CDs," it said.
The news will be a disappointment to the one
million people who downloaded Beethoven's
symphonies in a Radio 3 trial in 2005.
But trustee Diane Coyle admitted the board "could
still change its mind if there was a public
outcry and it was backed up by evidence".
Licence-fee payers can now have their say on the
BBC's plans, and the trust's conditions, in a two-month public consultation.
The trust said it expects to publish its final approval by 2 May.
The BBC Trust replaced the BBC's governors at the
beginning of the year, and this is one of its first major decisions.
BBC media correspondent Torin Douglas said it was
seen as the first test of the Trust's
independence from the corporation's management,
and that many would think it had passed it by
imposing tougher conditions than Ofcom did in its own report on the issue.
Many of the BBC's commercial rivals had wanted
Ofcom to take on the role of regulating the corporation.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/01/31 16:59:29 GMT
© BBC MMVII
I imagine that if DW does get offered this way
that Torchwood would not be far behind...
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]