Duo deal on new-media rights

After months of protracted negotiations, the BBC has finally reached an agreement with the U.K.’s independent producers over the thorny issue of how to carve up ownership of potentially lucrative new-media rights.

As in the U.S., the question of who should reap the financial benefits from selling shows via new platforms, such as mobile phones or the Web, has been a major sticking point between broadcasters and producers.

As a result, U.K. regulator Ofcom set a deadline of May 31 for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five to reach an agreement on revised terms of trade with producers’ association Pact. The deal with the BBC is the first to be reached, although Channel 4 is said to be making progress in its negotiations.

Under the BBC deal, viewers will be able to catch up on any episodes of a series on-demand while the series is still airing; they also will be able to download and store programs to view later. Once accessed, programs may be viewed for seven days.

Producers will for the first time be able to exploit commercial VOD rights in the U.K. and will have greater freedom to exploit other new-media rights as well. They will enjoy an improved share of revenue from commercial exploitation in the U.K., and the BBC will simplify and streamline its holdback policy, which restricts producers from exploiting their programs after they have aired.

Said John McVay, chief executive of Pact, “This is not only a good deal for the BBC and indies, it is a good deal for the whole market.”

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