BBC Plans Download-to-Own Service in U.K. Similar to iTunes Offering

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Shows to be offered likely to include “Doctor Who” and archived hits such as “Fawlty Towers.”

LONDON -- The BBC is set to shake up the download-to-own marketplace in the U.K. after saying it is to introduce its own version to consumers for its shows.

Under the name Project Barcelona director-general Mark Thompson said the service would offer people the chance to download BBC shows immediately following their first broadcast window for keeps.

Thompson said the service would allow viewers to "purchase a digital copy of a program to own and keep for a relatively modest charge."

Still in its early stages, there are no details in terms of pricing or when it would be launched but it is likely that hot shows such as Doctor Who or archive gems such as Fawlty Towers would be up for download.

Initial reports suggested the price would be somewhere around £1.89 ($3) per show.

Media commentator Steve Hewlett told the BBC’s own website that “other broadcasters could be concerned about the service's impact.”

In the U.K. the media was abuzz with the plans and cited the potential impact on the levels of business iTunes does in the marketplace.

He described the scheme in a speech to the Royal Television Society as the "digital equivalent" of people buying a DVD of their favorite program for a permanent collections.

The BBC's boss also said that the project would provide a source of income to support the U.K. indie production sector in an attempt to swerve criticism from commercial rivals.

Project Barcelona will require the go-ahead from the BBC Trust, the body which reps license fee payers.

He added: "Our ambition would ultimately be to let everyone who pays the license fee access all of our programs on this basis and, over time, to load more and more of our archive into the window."

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