BBC moving ahead with broadband plans in the UK

MUMBAI: In the UK the BBC has major plans up its sleeve as far as broadband is concerned. It will launch its major broadband-enabled public service initiative, the Creative Archive later in the year.

Speaking at a new media and broadcasting conference a few days ago BBC New Media and Technology director Ashley Highfield said, "A two-way broadband UK could mean a more creative, personalised, social and affluent Britain." Highfield claimed that the BBC had a critical role to play in the growing broadband market, as it already had with the internet market and the free digital TV market. "I see the BBC's online services having an increasingly important role to play in helping to create a 100 per cent connected, digital Britain."

Outlining the kind of content and services he believes the BBC needs to offer internet users in the 'on-demand' world to drive broadband take up, Highfield cited the roll-out of the BBC's broadband service from the Athens Olympics in August. This would be available on broadband for the first time.

As well as allowing users to choose from a wide selection of broadcasts, broadband technology will also enable them - at the same time as viewing - to play games, interact with other users and access facts and statistics. Highfield also suggested that the BBC's role in creating a broadband UK should not just be about creating compelling content, but also about developing services that make a difference.

Talking about the Creative Archive he added, "This will give everyone in the UK the freedom to search for and access clips from the BBC's television and radio archives via the BBC's website. This scheme has the potential to lead in a number of different directions and is radical in the sense that it will be largely defined by the behaviour of the people accessing the initiative. This is the BBC taking an innovation risk, but a risk that will add to the creative capital of the UK as a whole. It's all part of the BBC providing public access to its sound, television and film archives in a way that appeals to the new generation of media consumers."

The first phase of the initiative will last a year and a half. It will focus on factual radio and television content like natural history footage. It will allowing non-commercial users free access to around 2,000 clips of up to three minutes long (100 hours of content).

People will be able to download clips free of charge from the BBC website, keep them forever, and manipulate and add to them. They will be able to pass clips on to one another and, at some point in the future, post user-generated material back on to the BBC's website. A child might, for example, use a downloaded clip for a multi-media science project or an amateur DJ might mix a selection of BBC footage into a backdrop for a set.

For the initial phase the BBC will concentrate on fully owned material. At a later stage it will talk to independent producers and other rights holders for clearing the rights to other clips.

If the first phase is a success, the Creative Archive will be rolled out across all genres, considerably expanding the scale and range of content on offer. As the BBC learns more about how people are accessing and using the material, the Creative Archive will grow and develop in direct response to its users. The BBC issued a release stating that it would also work closely with others in the industry to share its experience and work with them to grow the quantity of audio visual material available in the public domain

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