BBC director general Mark Thompson revealed plans to launch a pay download services giving access to BBC content soon after its broadcast at a Royal Television Society conference last week.
“The research we’ve done with audiences tells us they’re very comfortable with the idea of BBC programmes being made available for purchase like this – there’s a clear understanding of the difference between viewing something once and keeping it to enjoy in perpetuity,” said Keating in a blog posting. “As Mark Thompson said in his speech, this is not a second licence-fee by stealth or any reduction in the current public service offering from the BBC.”
Keating said that over 90% of BBC content became unavailable for download once it was removed from BBC iPlayer. The new plan, codenamed Project Barcelona, was designed to change that, he said.
Keating said that programmes could be released for sale while they were still in their free catch-up window, just as some titles were released for DVD sale while still available for free on iPlayer.
“The rights for programmes in Barcelona would be wholly non-exclusive: producers would be free to work with other digital retailers as well, and of course to exploit their programmes in multiple other ways, such as secondary TV channels, subscription services, DVD, video-on-demand, and so on,” said Keating. “Over time the aim would be to make available not just an expanded range of recent titles, but a far greater volume of archive content as well. Barcelona would open up an important additional space for that very broad set of BBC programming that currently isn’t being made available by the market, much of it never seen since its original transmission. We believe there’s value for audiences in that, as well as additional revenues for producers, rights holders and the creative industries.”
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