What's next for iPlayer? BBC announces new content and revamped platform

 

Media Editor

The BBC has unveiled a raft of new content exclusive to its revamped iPlayer service amid fears that channels such as CBBC and BBC4 could be at risk from new threats to the organisation’s ability to collect the licence fee.

Frankie Boyle, Micky Flanagan and Morgana Robinson, are among comedians those who will provide bespoke programming for the online service, which Director General Tony Hall described yesterday as “the best online television service in the world”. Historian Sir Max Hastings, artist Goldie and filmmaker Adam Curtis will also contribute content specifically for iPlayer.

But having decided to downgrade BBC3 to an iPlayer-only service in response to pressure on its funding, the BBC warned yesterday that possible Government plans to decriminalise evasion of the licence fee would threaten other services. Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and Culture Secretary Maria Miller are both said to support the idea of making non-payment of the fee a civil offence.

At the launch of the revised iPlayer, James Purnell, the BBC’s Director of Strategy and Digital, said that decriminalisation could cost the BBC £200 million in income. “Say the rate of evasion was to double from five per cent now, that would be £200 million. That would be the equivalent of all of BBC4, all of CBeebies and all of CBBC,” he said. “Doing it like this very quickly would be a huge risk. The choice would then be that either we take those services off or the government would have to have a higher licence fee.”

Senior BBC figures yesterday rejected the idea that they might bow to a 200,000-strong celebrity-backed petition to reinstate to television the youth oriented channel BBC3, which Lord Hall predicted would do “some very, very new and creative things” as an iPlayer-only service.

But as the BBC encouraged more people to access its output via an iPlayer service that promises an enhanced user experience, there are concerns that the broadcaster will find it harder to make the case for its annual charge.

Colin Browne, chairman of the Voice of the Listener and Viewer, said his organisation supported the fee but that the growth of iPlayer-only material weakened the BBC’s position. “It tends to undermine the case for the licence fee,” he said.

The licence fee only applies to live broadcasts and not for content viewed on-demand via iPlayer. Decriminalisation could increase the numbers of people who argue that they should not pay the £145.50 annual fee because they only watch BBC shows outside the schedule.

Mr Purnell said it was “for the government to decide” whether such catch-up viewing should be subject to the licence fee. “In 2004 the government decided that consumption of live TV on computers [should be] covered by the licence fee as well. We think that in principle it should be possible for catch up content to be covered as well, we think that would be a sensible modernisation.”

Users of the new iPlayer will be urged to sign up to ensure a personalised service that allows them to pause viewing of a show on one device and continue watching from the same point on a different media platform. But Ralph Rivera, the BBC’s Future Media Director, promised the BBC would operate a “gold standard” in managing user data.

Victoria Jay, head of iPlayer programming, announced three shortform dramas for the online service. Adam Curtis will explore the themes of hypocrisy, deception and corruption in a trilogy of films. Goldie will guide iPlayer viewers around the “Matisse: The Cut-Outs” exhibition at Tate Modern and Sir Max will curate a series of interviews with Great War survivors, filmed in the Sixties.

Danny Cohen, the BBC’s director television, defended the decision to give a platform to Boyle, who was dropped by Channel 4 following jokes that were deemed offensive. “We are not in the business of banning specific comedians because of jokes they have told elsewhere,” said Cohen.

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Text messaging changes as a relationship evolves
life
News
The comedian, 42, made the controversial comment following the athlete’s sentencing to five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday
peopleComedian's quip about Reeva Steenkamp was less than well received at music magazine awards
Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Real Madrid
football
News
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

International Promotions Manager - Consumer Products

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: A global entertainment busi...

Head of Finance - Media

£80000 - £90000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Working for an International Mul...

Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?