BBC preparing iTunes-style store: Video archive heading online

Summary:The world-leading broadcaster, the BBC, lifted the lid on its latest venture, where back catalogues and archives of telly shows would be made available in a new iTunes-style service.

Rejoice, Doctor Who fans. The BBC has heard your cries, and is opening up its archive to the viewing public. And not just the British public, it seems.

The BBC will launch a digital content store that could have Apple quaking in its boots. Or not.

The broadcaster's director-general Mark Thompson confirmed "Project Barcelona" in a speech, which would take form as a viable competitor to iTunes, by allowing users to "purchase a digital copy of a programme" past and present "to own and keep".

It was in the same speech he also referenced a cyber-attack on the state-funded broadcaster by the Iranian government, in which its satellite feeds to BBC Persian were jammed in the country.

The move will make it easier for 'Auntie', a common nickname for the pillar-of-society corporation, up and running amidst a series of licence fee disputes with the UK government.

It also means that the chances of this service going global is increasingly likely, as all you Anglophiles scrum to get your hands on the latest episode of Top Gear.

The corporation has been pushing out VHS tapes, cassettes, DVDs, Blu-rays and the like for years under its commercial of BBC Worldwide, and embraced the digital culture long before any other broadcaster did by offering on-demand content through its iPlayer service and churning out programmes to iTunes.

The Conservative-run government froze the £145.50 ($230) licence fee until 2016 --- a 'telly tax' paid for by the vast majority of the British public --- which means great news for consumers, but if inflation goes up then the BBC loses out.

While details have yet to emerge, and prices not yet announced, speculation points to each episode being priced at a meagre £1.89 ($3.00).

With Thompson dismissing claims that this was a "second licence fee", it should be pointed out that the BBC's on-demand television and radio service iPlayer keeps most telly programmes in its banks for at least 30 days, giving users ample time to watch their favourite programmes when they have the time.

Thompson said that the project would not retain exclusivity, and other platforms --- like iTunes --- will still be stockpiled with BBC content.

The plans will be decided upon by Auntie's council of elders, the BBC Trust, later this year.

Image source: BBC.

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About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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