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BBC could share its iPlayer on demand service news
12 December 2008

Mark Thompson, Director-GeneralThe British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has said that it would like to assist other broadcasters, and might share its iPlayer on demand technology with ITV and Channel 4.

BBC's director general Mark Thompson has said on the broadcaster's website that the idea is part of a package of proposals designed to help the UK's public service broadcasters after the switch to digital TV.

The venture has been named Project Canvas, and seeks to combine digital terrestrial TV service of Freeview with broadband capability in a next-generation set-top box, and would also be launched on Freesat. It wold combine television, radio and high-definition services with on-demand and archive programming along with films, web content and interactive TV services.

Project Canvas is said to be a part of the BBC's proposals for on-ground partnerships aimed at bridging a 235 million per year gap in public service broadcasting funding. The platform is suggested as an open one for other public service broadcasters, content providers and internet service providers. The service is proposed for commencement around January 2010.

Thompson said that the BBC should share the benefits of its scale and security "with the rest of the industry", through partnerships that he believed "broadcasters can help secure the future of public service broadcasting in this country." The BBC could also allow other networks to use its local news facilities, it said on its website.

The BBC proposes to share the iPlayer technology with others, and plans to work with ITV and British Telecom (BT) on internet services for television. It also plans to open up access to regional content, sharing production technology, while mulling ways to cooperate with Channel 4 and using BBC online to promote public service internet content.

Presently, ITV, Channel 4 and Five produce public service broadcasting in exchange for free access to the airwaves. However, once the switch to digital TV is complete by 2012, they would compete with a multitude of media organisations, and would find it much harder to produce many of their programmes. BBC said that its proposal would mean other television networks could leverage its technology to create their own versions of the iPlayer, which lets its audiences catch up on programmes they might have missed or would want to watch again, upto a week after the original broadcast.

Amongst the areas of cooperation suggested is partnering with BT and ITV to find ways to develop a common standard that will allow delivery of content to television sets via the internet. The BBC is also planning to stop charging newspapers and magazines for printing its television listings, and is considering partnering newspapers to share content.

The sum toto of its proposals is estimated to be in the range of 120 million annually to public service broadcasters by 2014, it said on its website.

However, Andy Duncan, Channel 4's CEO said that these proposals do not offer much tangible financial benefits for his channel, and are basically overdue recognition from the BBC that it should be using its position to support the broader public service ecology.

An ITV spokesperson was quoted as saying that the network would carefully consider some of the projects.

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BBC could share its iPlayer on demand service