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BBC plan just what the Doctor ordered/BBC's download plans get backing

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  • pfyre
    BBC plan just what the Doctor ordered February 01, 2007 12:00am Article from: MX [] Coming
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2007
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      BBC plan just what the Doctor ordered

      February 01, 2007 12:00am
      Article from: MX

      Coming sooner ... Fans of BBC shows such as
      Doctor Who, Little Britain or Planet Earth could
      get their fix long before local networks want,
      with the broadcaster set to make episodes available for download.

      DOCTOR WHO fans stuck in a Down Under TV timewarp
      will soon be able to get their fix online and almost up to date.

      The BBC has taken the first steps towards making
      shows such as Doctor Who available for download on the internet.

      The on-demand proposal, which would allow viewers
      to watch popular programs online or download them
      to a home computer up to a week after they are
      broadcast, could dent ratings for Australian TV
      networks that screen BBC shows.

      Fans of shows such as Planet Earth, Two Pints of
      Lager and a Packet of Crisps and the Shakespeare
      series would be able to watch or download them on
      the BBC's long-awaited iPlayer.

      BBC's hit comedies Little Britain and Extras may also be considered.

      A program would remain playable for 30 days after
      being downloaded or seven days after being watched.

      The BBC has not yet confirmed which shows would
      be available, although Doctor Who has been
      recommended, or what the download costs would be.

      University of Technology Sydney communications
      expert Dr Mike Minehan said the iPlayer could
      damage ratings on Australian networks.

      "It probably will affect their audience," he said.

      "Mind you, Doctor Who fans, I don't think there's
      anything else like them . . . it's likely they will watch both forms."

      Dr Minehan said more TV networks would follow the
      BBC's lead in allowing downloads.

      "This has to be part of a new trend," he said.



      BBC's download plans get backing
      TV shows like Doctor Who are expected to be
      available for download later this year after the
      BBC Trust gave initial approval to the BBC's on-demand plans.

      Under the proposals, viewers will be able to
      watch popular programmes online or download them
      to a home computer up to a week after they are broadcast.

      But the trust imposed tough conditions on
      classical music, which could stop a repeat of the BBC's Beethoven podcasts.

      Full approval of the on-demand plans will follow a two-month consultation.

      After that, the BBC will be able to launch its
      long-awaited iPlayer, a computer application
      which allows audiences to watch or download any
      programme from the last seven days.

      A programme will remain playable for 30 days
      after being downloaded or seven days after being watched.

      The BBC Trust, an independent body that replaced
      the corporation's governors at the beginning of
      2007, said the on-demand plans - which also cover
      cable TV - were "likely to deliver significant public value".

      But it agreed with broadcasting watchdog Ofcom,
      which said earlier this month that the iPlayer
      could have a "negative effect" on commercial rivals.

      As a result, the trust has imposed several conditions on the BBC.

      It wants the corporation to scale back plans to
      let downloaded "catch-up" episodes remain on
      users' hard drives for 13 weeks, suggesting that 30 days is enough.

      Chris Woolard, head of finance, economics and
      strategy at the Trust, defended the decision to cut the storage time.

      When people record a programme at home "if they
      don't look at it within 48 hours, they don't look at it at all", he said.

      But some shows will be able to remain on a
      viewer's computer beyond the standard seven-day
      window using a feature called series stacking.

      Every episode of a "stacked" series would be made
      available until a week after transmission of the final instalment.

      Trustees said the BBC needed to be clearer about
      which programmes would be offered on this service
      - but suggested "landmark" series "with a
      beginning and end", like Planet Earth or Doctor Who, should be eligible.

      The trust also asked the BBC to explore ways of
      introducing parental controls to its on-demand
      services, as it is worried at the "heightened
      risk of children being exposed to post-watershed material".

      Podcasts also came under scrutiny, with the Trust
      recommending that audio books and classical music
      be excluded from the BBC's download services.

      "There is a potential negative market impact if
      the BBC allows listeners to build an extensive
      library of classical music that will serve as a
      close substitute for commercially available downloads or CDs," it said.

      The news will be a disappointment to the one
      million people who downloaded Beethoven's
      symphonies in a Radio 3 trial in 2005.

      But trustee Diane Coyle admitted the board "could
      still change its mind if there was a public
      outcry and it was backed up by evidence".

      Licence-fee payers can now have their say on the
      BBC's plans, and the trust's conditions, in a two-month public consultation.

      The trust said it expects to publish its final approval by 2 May.

      The BBC Trust replaced the BBC's governors at the
      beginning of the year, and this is one of its first major decisions.

      BBC media correspondent Torin Douglas said it was
      seen as the first test of the Trust's
      independence from the corporation's management,
      and that many would think it had passed it by
      imposing tougher conditions than Ofcom did in its own report on the issue.

      Many of the BBC's commercial rivals had wanted
      Ofcom to take on the role of regulating the corporation.
      Story from BBC NEWS:

      Published: 2007/01/31 16:59:29 GMT

      © BBC MMVII

      I imagine that if DW does get offered this way
      that Torchwood would not be far behind...


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