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BBC launches group watch feature for iPlayer; shortlists four candidates to replace Tony Hall

The BBC has launched a new feature that allows users to watch programmes at the same time from different devices.

Similar to the popular third party web plug-in Netflix Party, the new feature from BBC R&D – dubbed BBC Together – lets people watch and listen to video and audio content from iPlayer, Sounds, Bitesize, News and Sport at exactly the same time.

With friends and family being split apart as a part of the UK government’s lockdown measures, audiences have increasingly turned to methods of keeping the shared viewing experience alive.

In order to use this new BBC feature, users must be viewing on the iPlayer’s experimental platform Taster (which is accessible from within the BBC iPlayer and is where the broadcaster tests out prospective new features). From there, the viewer has to choose a programme and then invite their friends or family with a provided link.

Explaining the new feature, Dr Libby Miller, senior R&D producer at BBC R&D, said: “There may be physical distance between us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy great programmes with our friends, family, colleagues and classmates. We wanted to see if technology could bring people together to watch and listen to BBC shows remotely as a shared experience, which we’ve done with BBC Together.

“It’s important to say that it’s just a test at this stage – and we’ll be monitoring how well it works and thinking about how we could change it in the future, but we’re looking forward to seeing and hearing about the creative ways that people use it and getting their feedback on Taster.”

Down to four for new director general

The BBC has whittled its list of potential replacements for outgoing BBC director general Tony Hall to four reports The Guardian.

The report claims that the list, being decided upon by BBC board chair David Clementi, is made up of Will Lewis, the just-departed CEO of Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones and Company, senior BBC execs Tim Davie and Charlotte Moore, and an unnamed female candidate.

The broadcaster previously sounded out Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon, but the exec declined the opportunity to be considered. The BBC also reportedly also was considering a senior Amazon UK exec until recently.

Davie, the chief exec of BBC Studios, is believed to be the front-runner for the job while Moore – the Beeb’s director of content – is also considered highly. The report notes that a solution to appease both parties could be to split Hall’s roles of director general and editor-in-chief between Moore and Davie.

Lewis is considered a wildcard candidate who may appeal to the Conservative government’s preference for an external candidate. He has a journalism background, with experience at the Financial Timesand Sunday Times,along with becoming the Daily Telegraph’s youngest editor-in-chief. He was appointed interim CEO of Dow Jones and Company in January 2014, becoming the permanent CEO in May of that year.

He is a vocal critic of Google and Facebook, regularly accusing them of doing little to prevent the spread of fake news.