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Dublin: 1°C Friday 22 January 2021
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BBC confirms plans to launch iTunes-style download service

The BBC service – inexplicably named ‘Project Barcelona’ – would allow viewers to own a digital copy of a programme for a relatively modest charge, the director general said.

Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE BCC HAS confirmed plans to launch a download service similar to iTunes, which will allow users to buy programmes minutes after watching them.

Director general Mark Thompson said the proposed ‘Project Barcelona’ would allow viewers to own a digital copy of a programme for a “relatively modest charge”.

Admitting that no-one seems to remember why the codename ‘Barcelona’ was attached to the idea, Thompson said:

The idea behind Barcelona is simple.  It is that, for as much of our content as possible, in addition to the existing iPlayer window, another download-to-own window would open soon after transmission  – so that if you wanted to purchase a digital copy of a programme to own and keep, you could pay what would generally be a relatively modest charge for doing so.

He said the service was not “a second licence-fee by stealth” plan or an attempt to reduce the current service offering from the BBC but “the exact analogy of going into a High Street shop to buy a DVD or, before that, a VHS cassette.”

“For decades the British public have understood the distinction between watching Dad’s Army on BBC One and then going out to buy a permanent copy of it. Barcelona is the digital equivalent of doing the second,” he said.

He said the window would be “non-exclusive” and that the would open up one digital shop – adding: “The important point is that the window would be open-ended – in other words, the programmes would be available permanently.”

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