AUNTIE BEEB has been given provisional permission to broaden the scope of its BBC iPlayer service, after arguing that its current restrictions made it impossible to compete with other streaming services.
Under the new rules which have been given an initial nod by media regulator Ofcom, programmes on iPlayer will be allowed to remain for a full year, as opposed to the current 30 days.
Ofcom said that the change would "increase choice and availability of public-service broadcast content, and help ensure the BBC remains relevant in the face of changing viewing habits".
The news comes in the same week that the cash-strapped corporation faced heavy criticism after announcing it will scrap automatic free TV licences for the over-75s after UK gov stopped bankrolling the benefit.
The BBC has said several times that it believes that its very existence is under threat as younger audiences crowd to the likes of Netflix and YouTube for their content. Its argument is that the licence fee becomes increasingly unjustifiable when such strict time-limits are imposed.
After all - why pay £12.88 for a TV Licence when you can pay as little as £8 a month for a streaming service where shows can often remain live for years. In some cases, the limits were shorter than the length of a series, meaning that there was no way of 'binge-watching the box set'.
Today's move should do something to even the playing field, with programmes able to stay for the full year (five years for kids shows) before being moved to pay services like the forthcoming Britbox.
Ofcom acknowledges that the change could have an impact on its public service rivals - ITV Hub and All4 - and the BBC will be expected to keep close tabs on this.
Final approval will be given in August, after which things will start to dribble out as Auntie negotiates the longer rights to shows with independent production companies.
The BBC described the decision as "great news for audiences". μ
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