The Trust has considered the likely benefits to the licence fee payer, the public value created
and the potential market impact. Having regard to the Trust's duties under the Charter and
the Agreement (particularly the duties in Article 23) and such general guidance concerning
the management of the affairs of public bodies which we consider relevant and appropriate,
our conclusion is that we should approve the proposition that the BBC invests in a joint
venture to offer a national satellite based free-to-view digital service. We consider this to be
in the best interests of licence fee payers.
We have considered whether the Trust should attach any conditions to its approval for the
proposals. In our consultation we invited views on two conditions, and also asked
respondents whether there were other conditions that the Trust should impose.
We have concluded that in order to ensure that the proposition is compliant withcompetition law and state aid requirements, we should impose as condition of our approval:
•A requirement that the funding arrangements for the participation of other
broadcasters in “Freesat” are such that it can be demonstrated that those other
broadcasters are not being subsidised by the licence fee.
•A requirement that the BBC should keep its interaction with Freeview operationally
separate from its involvement with “Freesat” to minimise any potential effect oncompetitionThe Trust has also concluded that two further conditions should apply:
•The BBC, through its role in the Joint Venture, must retain sufficient control over the
decisions taken by the Joint Venture to ensure that the BBC’s public service
objectives are not undermined.
•The BBC, through its role in the Joint Venture, should ensure that there is always an
ability to access “Freesat” on a subscription-free basis
In addition to these conditions of approval, the Trust considers it important that in
implementing the “Freesat” proposal the BBC Executive is mindful of the following points,
which the Trust consider to be important to the success of the venture.
•Ensuring that arrangements to secure thenecessary quality and technical standards of
the receivers and Electronic Programme Guide required to access “Freesat” are put
•Taking all reasonable steps to ensure that “Freesat” is able to co-exist with other
digital television platforms without impairing their technical operations
There have been some detailed responses about how the requirement for separation
between “Freesat” and Freeview will work in light of any legitimate contact between the two
ventures, for instance, in the context of Digital Switchover. A body of technical matters has
also been raised in the consultation responses. The Trust considers that in implementing the
proposition the BBC Executive should take these into account as appropriate, where
respondents have not requested that their submissions be kept confidential.
The Trust will write to the BBC Executive setting out the terms of its approval.
BBC Trust, 27 April 2007
Sunday, 10 February 2008
BBC TRUST FREESAT CONCLUSION.
AS REPORTED BY THE BBC TRUST IN APRIL 2007.