Whichever way you voted, last June’s referendum on the UK’s future relationship with Europe was a genuinely historic event with profound ramifications for the country and our continental neighbours.
It’s given birth to books, documentaries and even, reportedly, a Hollywood film and dominated the news agenda ever since.
And yet the BBC’s live, as it happened coverage of the result is unavailable for academics, political pundits and sadists to watch again despite the ease with which iPlayer could offer it up for repeated viewing.
Most readers will be familiar with the rights issues which mean the broadcaster’s dramas, comedy & entertainment shows and documentaries only tend to be available for a 30 day catch-up window, but surely such considerations don’t apply to pure news and current affairs productions?
There’s little commercial value in this content – DVD sales of the referendum coverage would probably not be high and UKTV are unlikely to want to buy up the programme to show on Dave.
So why can’t we just pop along to iPlayer and relive our favourite moment?
Well, it turns out that while rights aren’t an issue, the rules which govern how the iPlayer works pose a bit of a bureaucratic barrier.
When I asked the BBC to explain the absence, a helpful spokesperson told me:
“The BBC makes the majority of programmes available on BBC iPlayer for 30 days after programmes are broadcast.
“The BBC Online service licence also permits a limited number of programmes to be available for 365 days to set current affairs in context.”
A bit of sniffing around suggests that while we all know “Brexit means Brexit”, no-one’s entirely sure what “limited” means in this context because it isn’t defined in the service licence.
So, like other programming, most factual output with little commercial re-use value eventually drops off the iPlayer.
And while this might seem like an odd way to run an online streaming service operated by the UK’s largest producer of TV and radio news content, remember that this is a country which doesn’t bother to gather up its constitution and print it in a single volume.
If the rules which govern how the country works aren’t all nicely defined – hence the Brexit court battle – it may be asking too much to expect those in charge to clearly say how much news content we’re allowed to rewatch.
So if you were hoping to catch the moment your least favourite Brexiteer insisted we wouldn’t be pulled out of the single market, or watch Lord Paddy Ashdown insist everyone should respect the result before later voting to try and overturn it, you’ll have to pop over to YouTube instead.
Unless the BBC’s lawyers get there first…