BBC Publishes New Distribution Policy

BBC News

The BBC has published its new distribution policy following the conclusion of a four month consultation process on a draft policy.

The BBC is required by its Royal Charter and Framework Agreement to develop a strategy and policy for distributing its output and services, and to consult the public and Ofcom on the Policy before publishing it.

As part of the consultation the BBC received 26 stakeholder submissions to the consultation. The BBC also met a number of stakeholders from industry and audience groups, as well as Ofcom.

Taking the consultation into account the BBC Board has now approved the BBC Distribution Policy which is effective immediately.

The policy

In the policy the BBC sets out seven conditions that form the basis under which the BBC will distribute its UK public services:

(a) Prominence – the placement of BBC content and services relative to those of other providers should be in line with audience needs and expectations
(b) Editorial Control – the BBC retains editorial control of its content and its placement
(c) Branding and Attribution – users should be able to easily identify which content on a platform is provided by the BBC
(d) Quality – users should be able to enjoy a high quality experience of BBC content and services
(e) Data – the BBC should have access to data about the usage of its services
(f) Free Access – users should incur no incremental cost to access BBC content and services
(g) Value for Money – arrangements should maximise cost-effectiveness of distribution to the licence fee payer

The responses

Overall there was broad support for the draft policy from a wide range of respondents but a minority of respondents questioned the extent and clarity of the draft policy and the BBC’s processes for implementing it. The BBC has set out a summary of the points raised during the consultation process and the BBC’s response to those issues. Many respondents raised valuable points about the drafting and application of the Policy. In response, the BBC is making a number of refinements to the policy and the publication of guidance on the BBC’s processes for dealing with requests for carriage of its services.

> The role of the Distribution Guidelines which will be superseded by the Policy with immediate effect. (Policy clause 1.2)
> That, when considering distribution arrangements, the BBC will always be open to new and innovative distribution proposals. It will nevertheless always seek to improve or at the very least maintain the quality of the current audience experience (which in turn will be assessed by the compliance of any new solution with the conditions set out this Policy). (Policy clause 2.3]
That the BBC will withhold its services where it is reasonable, proportionate and in the public interest to do so (Policy clause 2.4 and 4.3)
> That the BBC is providing guidance as to the process for dealing with requests for distribution. (Policy clause 3.4)
> Details of the BBC interpretation of audience ‘needs and expectations’ of prominence, providing some indicative guidance. (Policy clause 3.5(b);(d))
> BBC expectations of adequate curatorial influence relating only to the presentation of BBC programming. (Policy clause 3.9)
> The sufficient opportunities the BBC might expect platforms to provide to secure BBC branding and attribution. (Policy clause 3.11)
> The inclusion of access services among the functionality that we will expect third party platforms to deploy (Policy clause 3.15)
> That the BBC does not seek data beyond that relating to consumption of its own content and which, in deployment of a standard service product, the BBC in practice gathers itself, as well as handling of requests for data the BBC receives on third party platforms (Policy clause 3.17-3.20)

Taken together, the consultation document and the guidance should provide valuable additional information to third parties regarding the implementation of the Policy, thus giving further certainty to the market.