BBC television programmes will be available in a new paid download store shortly after first transmission, director general Mark Thompson has confirmed. The iTunes-style store, codenamed Project Barcelona, will operate in addition to the existing BBC iPlayer window and give users the option to pay for “owned” downloads of new and old TV shows.
Speaking at the Royal Television Society, Thompson said: “BBC iPlayer is the most successful and most intensively used catch-up service in the world but it’s true that, after that seven day public service window, a large proportion of what the BBC makes and broadcast is never seen or heard of again.
“On television, despite all of our existing forms of public service archival and commercial windowing, the overwhelming majority of what the BBC commissions and broadcasts becomes unavailable when that iPlayer window expires. We want to change that and have started to talk to our partners, including the independent sector and PACT, about a proposal which we will formally submit to the BBC Trust later this year which – for reasons which escape me – we call Project Barcelona.
“The idea behind Barcelona is simple. It is that, for as much of our content as possible, in addition to the existing BBC iPlayer window, another download-to-own window would open soon after transmission – so that if you wanted to purchase a digital copy of a programme to own and keep, you could pay what would generally be a relatively modest charge for doing so.”
Thompson addressed concerns that the BBC was seeking to double charge licence fee payers for content by drawing parallels between digital downloads and purchasing physical media in shops.
“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 or, before that, a VHS cassette,” he explained. “For decades the British public has understood the distinction between watching Dad’s Army on BBC One and then going out to buy a permanent copy of it. Barcelona is the digital equivalent of doing the second.”
The store’s launch is contingent upon the BBC obtaining agreement from programme production companies and the BBC Trust.
Source: Digital Spy