iSome bloke called Ashley Highfield, a former BBC digital bigwig, has today said something that is almost guaranteed to make him unpopular. Basically, he’s putting forward the argument that the BBC should charge for the BBC iPlayer. Speaking at the government’s digital creative industry conference C&binet, he said that Auntie should capitalise on its position as market leader of VoD. Surely this could never work and bring into question what the TV license actually pays for?
The former director of BBC future media and technology, now the managing director of consumer and online at Microsoft UK, said:
“I think the iPlayer was a catalyst to get a lot more content in the UK. All boats rise on that, commercial or not.”
“A reasonable question to ask now is about ‘windowing’,” he said. “Is seven days free right or should it be shortened [and should the BBC] get rid of hold-back periods [so commercial companies can more quickly exploit online TV revenues from content]?”
Marc Watson, the chief executive of BT Vision, which also offers VOD content, agreed there should have been a charge for the iPlayer, but added that “it is probably too late now”.
“I believe the BBC should be allowed to charge for the iPlayer. It should be possible going forward,” Watson said.
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