Insights Ofcom consults on its analysis and provisional views relating to BBC’s proposal to increase its catalogue of older content on BBC iPlayer


As required by the Charter and Agreement, Ofcom must ensure that changes the BBC wishes to make to its publicly funded TV, radio and online services do not inappropriately harm competition. To do this, Ofcom explains, it first needs to judge whether a proposed change is “material”, i.e. whether it may have a significant adverse impact on fair and effective competition.

Ofcom notes that since 2019, audiences have been able to access programmes on BBC iPlayer for 12 months from broadcast as standard. Older programmes are also available, e.g. past series of returning titles, but the BBC currently limits their availability. Under its proposals the BBC is proposing to no longer apply these limits and increase the amount of older content on BBC iPlayer.

Ofcom says that the evidence available suggests that the impact on other competitor broadcasters will be limited. Therefore it is minded to agree with the BBC Board’s findings, following its public interest test, that the proposals do not represent a material change.

Ofcom says that this is based on assessing the risks to competition over a reasonable timeframe and does not imply setting limits on how much of such content the BBC could add. Ofcom says that it has been clear with the BBC, however, that it will still be required to consider whether future changes to BBC iPlayer could have a material impact on competition.

Responses to the consultation must be submitted by 14 November 2022. If, having considered that feedback, Ofcom remains of the view that the proposal is not material, the BBC may go ahead and implement the change. Should Ofcom conclude that the change is material, the plans will be subject to further scrutiny by Ofcom. To access the consultation, click here.