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Public Service Rights

1 January 2009

Public Service Rights – the essential clearance guide for researchers, producers & libraries

Clarification from UK terrestrial broadcasters at FOCAL International meeting

Minimum clearance requirements for UK-broadcaster commissioned programmes have changed over the last two years with the arrival of video on-demand services, new channels and general extensions of their public service activities. The differences between broadcasters’ contractual requirements of producers is causing some confusion for researchers, producers and libraries.

FOCAL International therefore took the opportunity to arrange a recent Researchers meeting, kindly hosted by Robin James and Linda Reeve of BBC Motion Gallery, and we are grateful to the representatives from the rights departments of the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 who took time to speak and clarify these new requirements.

The important message from the meeting is television productions are no longer limited to broadcast on terrestrial channels, meaning that the clearance of third party material must be extended to cover the additional services offered by the broadcasters. These include simulcast to all available platforms, broadcasts additionally time-shifted on their +1 channels, digital/secondary UK channels and broadcaster branded VOD services.

The broadcasters’ position is that the viewing audience overall has remained fairly constant, however viewer habits have changed particularly with the younger audience that want to choose the times that they watch television and the device/medium they use.

In most cases, broadcasters have pre-agreed rate-cards for the use of these extended rights directly with the archive providers however as a result of this confusion and in the current difficult climate some producers have started to try and renegotiate two transmission rates only, to save money.
All the speakers at the meeting were clear on this point, namely that was that there are no longer any circumstances in which you would be able to deliver a finished programme that was cleared for just 2 UK transmissions – and yet despite this, the archives continue to receive clearance requests for exactly those rights. Archive houses with some understanding of the broadcasters’ minimum clearance obligations will be better placed to advise clients who continue to request 2 UK transmissions.

As a guide, the minimums are as follows:-


• UK PSR is a minimum requirement and all BBC programmes, both in-house and independents must clear for these rights.

• Original broadcast by linear transmission (unlimited transmissions on Free TV) and streaming (usually by internet specifically - – but could be by other means) either simultaneous or within a period of seven days.

• Programme can be downloaded from iPlayer but will remain on the user’s hardware for seven days after first accessed or no more than 30 days, except in instances involving Series Stacking.

• Territory – United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle Of Man. 

• Will not generate any commercial revenue for BBC.

• Licence period five years.


Under ITV’s standard Terms of Trade agreed with PACT, producers must pre-clear:

• a number of  transmissions which varies according to programme type. As a guide these are currently as follows: Drama, Comedy and Entertainment – 1 or 2 transmissions/ Factuals, Arts, Current Affairs – 2 transmissions
Daytime – 3 transmissions
Childrens – 5 or unlimited transmissions
Sports – number of transmissions will vary per title/event.

• For broadcast by any means including online and mobile simulcast with 30 day VOD Catch-up (30 days from first transmission of the last episode in a series).

• Multiplex rights (+1 timeshift channels).

• Territory UK only.

• Licence period five years with option to extend by two years .

Channel 4

• Two UK Transmissions over five years on C4 (main service).

• Simulcast to all available platforms (Cable, Satellite, via, Mobile etc.).

• One hour timeshift on each transmission on C4+1 and all C4+1 platforms.

• 30 Day ‘Catch Up / Video On Demand’ by any broadcast means from first C4 TX.

The latter is likely to increase next year to a minimum of six months with the arrival of Kangaroo and the need to have catch-up VOD around both C4 transmissions.

Copies of the presentations given by each of the broadcasters to the FOCAL International Researcher’s meeting are available on the FOCAL International Website.

ON BEHALF OF FOCAL INTERNATIONAL: Belinda Harris, All Rights Clearance Ltd