Final plans for a new service which could revolutionise TV viewing by providing programmes on demand were announced by the BBC Trust today.
But the decision to exclude classical music recordings from the iPlayer has sparked disagreement with the BBC Executive, headed by Director General Mark Thompson.
The BBC iPlayer is the latest response from the broadcasting industry to the decline of traditional TV viewing, with consumers now expecting to choose when to watch programmes.
ITV is expected to announce its own ‘catch-up’ service tomorrow, while Channel 4 launched its ‘on demand’ facility in December.
The BBC is hoping that its service, which will allow viewers to catch up on programmes for seven days on cable or online, will be up and running by November.
TV fans will also be able to watch programmes streamed live over the internet from their homes or on wireless laptops in locations like cafes and airports.
But classical recordings, as well as book readings, will be excluded from the new service because of the potential to harm CD sales.
In the public consultation, 66 per cent of respondents felt the BBC should offer either all or some radio broadcasts of classical music as downloads over the Internet.
But the BBC Trust responded that ‘the market for classical recordings is in a precarious state and to allow the BBC to offer free classical downloads may risk a loss of consumer value in the commercial market which could outweigh the public value gain.’
Mark Thompson said: ‘We are delighted with the BBC Trust’s decision to approve our on-demand proposals. The first Public Value Test has been an extremely rigorous and exhaustive process.
‘This is a significant decision as the new on-demand proposals are at the heart of the BBC’s Creative Future. However, we disagree with the Trust’s decision to exclude classical music podcasts from the proposal.
‘Our research suggests that classical music audiences would wish to download classical music programmes from the BBC and to listen to them on their terms, free at the point of use.’
The BBC plans to make the iPlayer work across major computer platforms but at its launch it will only be compatible with Microsoft.
The BBC Trust says that the ability to make the iPlayer work with other systems like Apple is dependent on third parties, but progress towards this end will be the subject of six-monthly reviews.
ITV is expected to relaunch its website itv.com with an array of on-demand video tomorrow.
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