Freesat, the not-for-profit joint venture between the BBC and ITV, would like to include an option for viewers to access paid-for on-demand content, in addition to its existing free-to-air television and on-demand offer. The BBC Trust has considered the BBC's continuing participation in the joint venture, and has decided that this remains appropriate.
In 2007, the BBC Trust approved the BBC's participation in the Freesat joint venture with ITV (Freesat (UK) Ltd). Freesat provides marketing for Freesat and a technical standard for set-top boxes (STBs) and other devices offering free-to-view content via satellite.
Now, the Trust has considered whether the BBC's continued participation would be appropriate following Freesat's plans to introduce and list on-demand pay content delivered via broadband on the Freesat platform. Freesat has informed the Trust that such content may include paid-for on-demand 'premium' content, such as films, but will exclude adult content and live streamed sports coverage. Live paid-for linear broadcast channels do not form part of these proposals. Freesat will not itself provide any on-demand content, but will make available such content via its Electronic Programme Guide.
Having first decided that further approval was required, the Trust had to decide whether any particular regulatory processes - which could include a Public Value Test - should be undertaken to assess the proposed change before deciding whether to approve it. Accordingly, the Trust principally considered whether the proposed change is "significant" in terms of its impact, financial implications, novelty and duration. Our assessment concludes that this is not a "significant change" in the context of the 2007 approval and that it would not be appropriate for the Trust to conduct a Public Value Test or any other process in this case.
The Trust has decided that the participation of the BBC in the joint venture remains appropriate, and so is extending its approval given in 2007 to include the provision and listing by the joint venture of the on-demand content as set out above. This document provides supplementary approval for the BBC's continued participation in the Freesat joint venture should Freesat decide to implement the changes set out within it.
Freesat would like to include an option for viewers to access paid-for on-demand content delivered via broadband alongside its existing free-to-air linear and on-demand television offer. Such paid-for content would not in any way affect the availability of the core free-to-air services on Freesat. However, some content may be made available via existing channels and services through, for example, an on-screen graphic or prompt which would take the viewer from the linear to the on-demand environment. Freesat plans to use the opportunity of the forthcoming launch of its new technical standard for set top boxes
(which will also include support for Digital Rights Management software for premium content) to begin listing paid-for content delivered via broadband within its Electronic Programme Guide. Where technically possible, some on-demand services could also be made available on more recent current generation Freesat receivers.
Many existing Freesat customers with set-top boxes or integrated televisions that are connected to a broadband service can already access free on-demand content made available by Freesat in the form of BBC iPlayer. In addition, most television sets which connect to broadband can also access on-demand content, including paid-for content, via (for example) a suitable 'app'. These services are available outside of the Freesat Electronic Programme Guide in the television's user interface. Freesat has therefore proposed making paid-for services available from within the Freesat Electronic Programme Guide. To support this, the next generation of Freesat set-top boxes and Freesat integrated digital televisions will be based on a revised technical standard. This standard will incorporate broadband connectivity combined with support for Digital Rights Management software to enable the consumption and protection of premium content such as films.
The provision of any kind of paid-for content within the Freesat service falls outside the Trust's existing permissions for the BBC's participation in Freesat. Although the Trust does not have direct control over the Freesat joint venture between the BBC and ITV, it has powers of approval with regards to the BBC's continued participation in that joint venture. With this in mind, the Trust has carried out a formal assessment of the proposal and we have set out our decision to approve it at BBC Trust - Freesat.
I qualify for the assisted switch-over-can I ask whether one certain box only is supplied or will I be allowed a choice+ what do I need to know to check for any "cowboy" installers or any other "pitfalls there may be. I am thinking of Freesat as at the moment I have Virgin and I am used to a wide choice in stations but as a pensioner this is becoming too expensive for me.
Thank you for your time