Page last updated at 15:48 GMT, Thursday, 11 December 2008

BBC's iPlayer 'could be shared'

Mark Thompson
Mark Thompson wants the BBC to help other broadcasters

The BBC could share its iPlayer technology with the likes of ITV and Channel 4, director general Mark Thompson has said.

The idea is part of a package of proposals designed to help the UK's public service broadcasters after the switch to digital TV.

The BBC could also allow other networks to use its local news facilities.

Mr Thompson said the BBC should "share the benefits of its scale and security with the rest of the industry".

He added: "Through partnerships I believe broadcasters can help secure the future of public service broadcasting in this country."

Switch to digital

Sharing the iPlayer technology with others
Working with ITV and BT on internet services for TV
Opening up access to regional content
Sharing production technology and research and innovation
Seeing how BBC Worldwide and Channel 4 can co-operate
Using BBC Online to promote public service internet content
At the moment, ITV, Channel 4 and Five produce public service broadcasting in exchange for free access to the airwaves.

But after the switch to digital TV, which will be complete by 2012, they will have compete with scores of other media organisations and will find it harder to produce a wide range of programmes.

The proposal means other TV networks could use the technology the BBC has designed, to create their own versions of the iPlayer.

The iPlayer allows viewers and listeners to catch up on programmes they may have missed, up until a week after broadcast.

A partnership between BBC Worldwide - the corporation's commercial arm - and Channel 4 has also been suggested by the corporation.

It will also team up with BT and ITV to explore ways of developing a common standard for delivering programmes to TV sets via the internet.

The BBC will also no longer charge newspapers and magazines for printing its television listings, and is already talking to newspapers about sharing content.

It says its proposals will be worth 120 million a year to public service broadcasters by 2014.

'Overdue recognition'

We don't believe these proposals offer any tangible financial benefit for Channel 4

Andy Duncan, Channel 4's chief executive

BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons said: "We were looking for ideas that would offer substantial and sustainable new value for the industry and - just as important - for audiences."

Channel 4's chief executive, Andy Duncan, said: "This is overdue recognition from the BBC that it should be using its privileged position to help support the broader public service ecology.

"However, with the exception of the suggested partnership with BBC Worldwide, we don't believe these proposals offer any tangible financial benefit for Channel 4."

He called BBC research about the commercial benefits from linking up with the iPlayer "inaccurate".

"We do not share their view that this particular proposal could deliver an immediate and sizeable financial upside."

However, an ITV spokesperson said the network would be giving the projects some "careful consideration".

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