Summary of the BBC's PSB partnership proposals

Supporting the transition to fully digital production
The BBC is exploring how it can adapt its own significant digital production investment to help create a common digital production standard for the sector: bringing together the UK's creative industry and technology vendors with 'software as a service' that adheres to agreed industry standards, including:

  • A digital archive tool: creating a shared repository for the industry allowing content to be more easily stored and accessed by producers and broadcasters in common

  • A digital production tool: enabling new material to be combined with archive material and moulded roughly before craft edit begins, and which allows content development to be shared more easily by producers, editors and others.

Regional news
The BBC is committed to the long-term delivery of rich regional news services. It is now exploring how its own commitment can help to sustain regional news beyond the BBC, by combining resources in those parts of the value chain that stop short of reducing plurality. The BBC could for example make a significant amount of raw news footage - that covering more routine, less distinctive items - available more widely.

There is also a potentially significant opportunity to share regional news infrastructure. In the medium to longer term, and subject to further approvals, the BBC could share infrastructure and broadcast facilities across the UK. Co-location could enable not only shared space but also shared infrastructure, technology and support services.


  • iPlayer
    iPlayer's phenomenal success points to the possibility of it becoming a video-on-demand platform for PSB more widely - a possibility raised by Ofcom in September. The BBC is therefore exploring sharing the iPlayer technology, knowhow, user experience and design across PSBs.

    One possibility is that iPlayer could become a federation of on-demand PSB services. Users could access this federation either via a single broadcaster-neutral central site or through separate '/iplayer' sections of each participating PSB's website, where programmes would be viewed.

    Each participant would then exploit its own rights as it sees fit - maintaining the benefits of creative competition and editorial independence, but maximising the benefits of shared technology and user experience. We would see this idea being compatible with other PSB partnerships including Kangaroo, to which the BBC and other shareholders remain committed.

  • Internet-connected television
    The BBC has been developing a standards-based open environment for internet-connected television, working closely with ITV and in discussion with other PSBs and industry partners including BT.

    This standard would be designed to offer consumers an integrated broadband and broadcast service, free-to-air and accessed through a single, simple user experience. It could be made available by any internet service provider offering a suitable broadband connection.

    The proposal would offer audiences existing free-to-air radio and television services including High Definition, while also bringing on-demand video, audio and web-based content like iPlayer to the television set.

    Above all it would help protect the competitiveness of free-to-air platforms and a direct open relationship between PSBs and audiences.

  • Broadband
    The BBC's website, BBC Online, is valued and trusted very highly by audiences - so much so that it is now the third most-visited site in the UK (and the only British-owned and run site to be in the top ten).

    But BBC Online could be a better guide to high-quality PSB content elsewhere on the internet. Through increased linking, syndication and wider partnership, the site could go some way to addressing Ofcom's concerns about the findability and discoverability of online public service content in general.

    Working with Government, PSBs, ISPs and other partners, the BBC could also play an important role in helping bridge the digital divide. While direct financial benefits to the PSBs are limited, this activity could bring real benefits to the cultural and creative sectors, as well as important social and citizen benefits.

Partnerships with BBC Worldwide
BBC Worldwide has begun to explore ways of using its global scale and product diversity to create opportunities with other PSBs. Initial analysis undertaken by Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide indicates that partnership opportunities across a range of business areas could potentially generate benefits worth£10-20m of net value per annum after a number of years of development, with the potential to generate up to a further£20m by working with other parties.

Enabling Partnerships
The partnerships described above could be supported by a number of enabling contributions from the BBC, including doing more to share the outputs of its research and innovation, training and audience research.

Beyond PSB
Partnership proposals could bring benefits to organisations and institutions beyond the PSBs, with those around digital production, research and innovation, training and audience research available to all in the industry. The BBC's broadband proposals would also bring broader benefits, including through greater online linking to public service content; syndication of BBC content to newspapers and others; strong partnerships with the cultural sector; and support for the DAB digital radio platform.

Financial Benefits
Initial modelling by Deloitte indicates that by 2014 the partnerships explored in this document (including the BBC Worldwide partnerships modelled separately) could generate over£120m of annual benefit to PSB beyond the BBC compared to a scenario without them. This annual benefit would represent a combination of new revenue, avoided loss of revenue, and avoided or reduced cost. The ultimate benefits of these proposals will of course depend on their exact design and implementation, including more detailed discussion with partners about the nature and scale of the benefits.