The BBC Trust have given their provisional approval to the BBC's proposals for making their television output available via their website for "on-demand" access. This ought to enable Doctor Who episodes to be made available from the official site later this year.
However, this is only provisional approval; the Trust will reach its final decision before 2 May 2007, after taking account of the responses it receives during the consultation period.
The BBC Trust must give its approval to this service before the BBC can launch it as the Trust exists to safeguard the interests of UK licence fee payers, ensuring that the BBC provides high quality output and good value. The on-demand service, which has been trailed with a number of BBC2 programmes over the past year, would be a major shift in broadcasting for the corporation if rolled out across all their television output.
The online programmes would be available for 30 days after initial broadcast and would be restricted by use of Digital Rights Management. The trust's press release gives some more information on the nature of the DRM:
As proposed, the TV catch-up service on the internet relies on Microsoft technology for the digital rights management (DRM) framework. The Trust will require the BBC Executive to adopt a platform-agnostic approach within a reasonable timeframe. This requires the BBC to develop an alternative DRM framework to enable users of other technology, for example, Apple and Linux, to access the on-demand services.