Media regulator Ofcom has concluded that the BBC's proposed free-to-view high-definition television channel is unlikely to harm commercial rivals. Announcing the findings of its market impact assessment (MIA) into BBC HD, Ofcom said that while the mixed genre BBC HD channel might have "some negative impact on viewing shares of commercial broadcasters", that impact was "likely to be modest".
"On balance, Ofcom's analysis has found some positive impacts are possible, and that there are unlikely to be significant adverse effects. Therefore, Ofcom has not proposed significant modifications to the BBC's HD service."
The BBC plans to offer BBC HD on all digital platforms—digital satellite, digital cable and digital terrestrial—as well as on the internet. Programmes will come from BBC One and BBC Two plus other BBC channels and at launch the channel is set to offer a schedule of three to four hours per day building to nine hours in late 2008.
On the capacity-constrained Freeview platform, the BBC has proposed to offer either a full nine-hour schedule, if sufficient spectrum capacity is available after digital switchover, or a four-hour overnight service between 2am and 6am if insufficient spectrum capacity is available for peak hours transmission.
Under either option, the four-hour overnight service would begin ahead of digital switchover.
Meanwhile the BBC Trust Unit published its public value assessment (PVA) of BBC HD. The PVA concludes that "overall that the service proposal would deliver a medium to high level of public value". However, the PVA also highlighted "some issues about the relative public value of a more limited service on DTT compared to other platforms".
The BBC Trust will now consider Ofcom's MIA and the Trust Unit's PVA and publish its provisional conclusions next Thursday.
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