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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 August 2005, 19:56 GMT 20:56 UK
BBC TV channels to be put on net
Billie Piper and David Tennant
New Doctor Who episodes may be available for mobile phones
The BBC's TV channels will be made available on the internet, BBC Director General Mark Thompson has confirmed.

He announced plans for the MyBBCPlayer - which will allow viewers to legally download seven days of programmes - at the Edinburgh Television Festival.

He said he hoped the service would launch next year.

Mr Thompson said that unless the BBC adapted "we won't deserve or get licence-fee funding beyond 2016... that is very definitely not our plan".

A simulcast of BBC One or BBC Two, letting UK viewers see programmes on the web at the same time as they go out on TV, is also planned as part of MyBBCPlayer.

'Sophisticated' viewers

"We believe that on-demand changes the terms of the debate, indeed that it will change what we mean by the word 'broadcasting'," said Mr Thompson.

"Every creative leader in the BBC is wrestling with the question of what the new technologies and audience behaviours mean for them and their service," he added.

"An expanding portion" of the BBC's audio and video material from the archive will also be able to be accessed via MyBBCPlayer.

"It should make it easier for users to find the content they want whenever and wherever they want it," Mr Thompson said.

Director-General of the BBC, Mark Thompson
Mr Thompson said he hoped the MyBBCPlayer would launch next year

The popularity of the BBC's Bitesize revision series and Beethoven symphonies made available via the internet proves that viewers are already "very sophisticated in the use of this media," he said.

In a departure from past corporation policy, the player would also enable viewers to buy items via the BBC site.

"The idea that in the age of the iPod that the public would not welcome the opportunity to buy a piece of music they heard on the site seems to me to be ridiculous," he said.

Mr Thompson said he would be unable to estimate the cost of the MyBBC Player scheme until the government had confirmed a date for digital switchover - when all of the UK's analogue TV signals will be switched off.

He also responded to Lord Birt's James MacTaggart Memorial lecture, in which Lord Birt suggested that Channel 4 should receive extra funding to secure its status as a public service broadcaster.

Mr Thompson said this aim should not be achieved by giving the channel a share of the BBC's licence fee.

"If you want to strengthen public service broadcasting, beginning to unpick the solidity of the BBC funding to shore up other channels is the wrong way to do it," Mr Thompson said.

Proposals to make clips available on mobile phones are also being speeded up, director of TV Jana Bennett said last week.

The BBC received a "wake-up call" about the demand for new technology in March when the first episode of the new Doctor Who was leaked on to the internet, she said.

Internet debuts

A BBC spokesman said the corporation was aiming to simulcast a channel permanently but would restrict it to UK viewers only.

"These plans are subject to the approval of the board of governors and the resolution of rights clearance issues on content like music and imported shows," he said.

As well as the simulcast plan, more shows are set to follow the lead of BBC Three comedy The Mighty Boosh and appear on the internet before TV.

Sketch show Titty Bang Bang, sitcom Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps and Johnny Vegas' show Ideal will be made available on the internet first.

Clips from the shows will also be made available on mobile phones.

The makers of the new Doctor Who series are among the producers who have been developing ways to use mobile phone and portable players.

And extra content has been filmed for broadband to accompany BBC One's autumn contemporary Shakespeare series.

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