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August 29, 2005

BBC set to expand online TV offerings

The BBC is planning to make more TV and radio programs available over the internet in an attempt to remain competitive in the increasing online advertising industry.

By CBR Staff Writer

The new on-demand service, called MyBBCPlayer, will provide viewers which access to the last seven days of TV and radio programming. A simulcast, which allows viewers to see programs that are broadcast on both the television and the web at the same time, may also be added to the package.

The move follows the success of the BBC’s Bitesize revision series and Beethoven symphonies that it recently made available over the internet. MyBBCPlayer will add to this portfolio with a series of archived programs as well as a wider range of local, national and international news that it currently broadcasts.

The new internet channel is part of the broadcasting giant’s strategy to expand upon its online retail service and generate more web-based sales, which is likely to cause concerns among its commercial rivals. Groups including the Commercial Radio Companies Association and the Newspaper Society have already voiced complaints over the BBC’s impingement on their markets.

However, according to BBC director general Mark Thompson, the BBC wants to work with its commercial rivals rather than against them, claiming that a collaboration would open up new values for commercial rights holders.

The idea that, in the age of the iPod, the public would not welcome the opportunity to actually buy a download of a piece of music they have heard on a BBC site – and to be able to buy in a simple and clear way without having to go through 29 pages of health warnings – seems to me ridiculous, said Mr Thompson, speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival.

Some industry observers have seen the launch of MyBBCPlayer as an attempt to support the BBC’s license fee renewal. The BBC’s decline in market share to television and digital radio stations has led some to argue that its public funding should be cut or shared with other broadcasters.

In his speech at the festival, Mr Thompson conceded that if the BBC failed to adapt to advancing technologies in digital meida, the company will not get license-fee funding beyond 2016.

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