The BBC Trust has criticised new guidelines set by the BBC for the creation of self-build versions of the BBC iPlayer. The comments came as the BBC regulatory body rejected an appeal by IP Vision, which wanted to add a bespoke version of the iPlayer to its FetchTV product.
FetchTV had created its own version of the iPlayer, believing it was adhering to BBC guidelines, but its request to release the product was rejected. The BBC argues that producing a set of standard products to all comers represents the best value for the licence fee payer. Only when significant audience levels can be achieved will the corporation consider making an investment in bespoke products. FetchTV now uses the general ‘big screen’ version of the iPlayer.
IP Vision made a formal complaint to the BBC in March after support was declined by BBC Future Media and Technology. The matter then passed to the BBC Executive’s Fair Trading Complaints Panel, which also rejected the complaint, and IP Vision then appealed to the BBC Trust.
The Trust’s Finance and Compliance Committee (FCC) found that the BBC had given reasonable arguments as to why IP Vision should not be allowed to go ahead with its self-build product.
New guidelines were introduced in October formalising a ban on third parties building their own iPlayer products. The Trust said that this amounted to a significant change to the syndication guidelines on which it should have been consulted. “This clarification to the BBC’s syndication policy should have come to us for the necessary scrutiny before being published and we’ll be looking carefully at the policy and guidelines overall as part of our planned review early next year,” said FCC chair Rotha Johnson. The review comes two years after the implementation of the BBC’s syndication policy.
This policy, to which revised guidelines come into effect in the New Year, has still resulted in 25 different versions being made available including Virgin Media, PS3, Nintendo Wii, Cello’s iViewer, and (in Beta) on Freesat.