BBC plans download service

The BBC has unveiled plans to make its content available on a download-to-own basis.

Delivering a speech yesterday to the Royal Television Society, BBC director general Mark Thompson said Project Barcelona would allow members of the public to purchase a “digital copy of a programme to own and keep”.

He added that there would be a “modest charge” for doing so.

“This is not a second licence fee by stealth, or any reduction in the current public service offering from the BBC, it’s the exact analogy of going into a high street shop to buy a DVD,” he said.

Thompson added that the expectation would be to make the content available for “other existing providers to sell if they wish and that producers could exploit this download-to-own window in any way they wanted”.

The director general said the proposal had been developed because, once a programme has been on the iPlayer, “a large proportion of what the BBC makes and broadcasts is never seen or heard of again”.

“If Barcelona gains the support of the UK’s producers, and of course, the approval of the BBC Trust, it potentially adds an important new source of revenue for producers and rights holders,” Thompson added.

He said that talks have begun with producers’ body PACT and the independent sector.

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