Television

BBC on-demand service for archive programmes set for trial early next year

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MUMBAI: A limited consumer trial of the BBC Archive in the UK is set to begin early next year, and is expected to last up to six months.

The BBC Archive is the BBC's proposed service that would make parts of its repository of previously broadcast TV and radio content – an estimated one million hours of TV and radio programmes - available, on a public service basis, to licence fee payers on-demand via bbc.co.uk.

The trial for the BBC Archive is being undertaken in order to gather evidence about consumer demand for free archive content and its ability to create public value. It will make available 1,000 hours of content drawn from a mix of genres to a closed user environment of 20,000 triallists.

A limited amount of content - 50 hours - of both TV and radio programmes will be available in an open environment for general access. The results of the trial will inform the BBC's future proposition for a public service archive service on bbc.co.uk, which will require approval from the BBC Trust.

BBC director of Future Media and Technology Ashley Highfield says, "As part of our commitment to making our public service content more personal, more convenient and more relevant for all our audiences, we are developing a portfolio of services to offer licence payers access to the BBC's archive. To this end, we are planning a limited trial of the BBC Archive early next year to learn more about interaction with the BBC's archive content on-demand via bbc.co.uk, and the public value that it delivers. Our goal is to turn the BBC into an open cultural and creative resource for the nation."

The BBC's future proposition for an archive service on bbc.co.uk will also encompass the BBC's Creative Archive, which has already completed a successful 18-month pilot, which concluded in September.

The Creative Archive pilot released selected BBC television and radio content in five successive national campaigns and four regionally-based campaigns. It generated a significant level of engagement from licence fee payers with nearly 100,000 regular users, and a Bafta award for technical innovation.

The Creative Archive pilot enabled people to re-edit, use and share appropriately cleared content for their own, non-commercial creative purposes within the terms of the Creative Archive Licence Scheme in partnership with other organisations (ITN Source; British Film Institute; Channel 4; Open University; Museum, Libraries and Archive Council; Teachers' TV; and Community Channel).

The intention would be to make selected BBC content available under the scheme within the proposed BBC Archive service, across bbc.co.uk and also within a third party web portal with partner organisations.

The BBC Archive would be an extension of the BBC's seven-day catch-up on-demand proposals (including BBC iPlayer) which are currently undergoing a Public Value Test.

Subject to the licence fee settlement, the public service archive proposition will be further developed in light of the trials before being submitted for approval to the BBC Trust in the second half of 2007.

The trial of the BBC Archive is specifically designed to test audience demand for public service archive content and how they want to access it.

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