Sir David Clementi told the Oxford Media Convention that new launches from Apple, Disney, Comcast and WarnerMedia were well-positioned to make a major impact in a market in which to stand still is to go rapidly backwards. He said the aim was to make important and straightforward changes to bring the iPlayer into line with what the rest of the market was doing.
“The Board determined that the BBC’s planned iPlayer changes for 2018/19 did not amount to a material change, and therefore should not be subject to the delay of a Public Interest Test. Ofcom disagreed. That is their right…
“But every month is precious, and comes with the risk of lagging even further behind audience needs and expectations.”
Sir David gave the example of Netflix, which he said updated their app over 50 times a year, without the need for regulatory approval and called for a look at whether the regulation of the past remained for the global, digital age.
“The current regulatory system has its origins in an era where the BBC was seen as the big beast in the jungle, the big beast against whom all others needed protection. But that view of the world has now passed. Increasingly, our major competitors are well funded, international giants – Netflix, Spotify, Facebook, YouTube – whose financial resources dwarf our own.”
Sir David recognised that its funding through the Licence Fee meant there should be constraints on how the BBC operates, but a way forward must be found that does not just play into the hands of global competitors at the expense in particular of UK PSBs.