BBC to test online TV service

May 19, 2005

The BBC is moving toward the launch of an ambitious online media service that will let viewers watch shows on their computers, with the opening of a 5000 person trial this September, Reuters reported.

iMP, the publicly-funded broadcaster’s interactive media player, will allow broadband Internet users to download selected BBC television and radio programs.

Hoping to mimic the success of Apple’s online music store, Ashley Highfield, BBC’s director of new media and technology, said iMP could be the iTunes for the broadcast industry.

The trial will offer the ability to search and filter about 190 hours of TV programs and 310 radio programs, plus local content and selected feature films. Shows will be available for seven days after they have aired.

iMP will function as a peer-to-peer network, so that content will be exchanged between users, and a digital rights management system will be put in place to ensure that only BBC license fee payers can watch and listen to programs.

The broadcaster has also recently announced plans for a creative archive, which lets license fee payers download and alter selected material from its vast catalog of content.

The iMP trial is being conducted in a partnership with Siemens, BBC Broadcast and Kontiki.

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