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BBC, Microsoft in content alliance

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MUMBAI: UK pubcaster The BBC and software major Microsoft have signed a nonexclusive memorandum of understanding (MoU).

This will define the framework within which the companies can explore opportunities for the delivery and consumption of BBC content and the evolution of next-generation broadcasting.

BBC DG Mark Thompson and BBC director of new media and technology Ashley Highfield met Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates to officially sign the memorandum of understanding and discuss the BBC's digital strategy. This includes plans for its online archive, for a radically re-invented Web site in the Web 2.0 world -- a second generation of Internet-based services -- and for ways to share its online content in the future.

Thompson said, "We are currently witnessing unprecedented rates of change in technology and audience expectations. To ensure that the BBC is able to embrace the creative challenges of the digital future, we need to forge strategic partnerships with technology companies and distributors for the benefit of licence payers."

Gates says, "Microsoft's strength is in driving digital innovation, and our vision is to open up rich, new consumer experiences that allow people to enjoy digital content anytime, anywhere and on any device."

"This vision fits squarely with the BBC's charter to lead the industry in delivering content that is compelling and accessible. I'm delighted that we're taking this important step, and I look forward to working together to develop new models for content delivery and consumption."

Highfield said, "Microsoft is not just a key supplier to the BBC, it is also a key gateway to audiences that the BBC needs to reach through Web services it runs like MSN and Windows Live(TM) Messenger, and hardware such as Xbox and the Windows Media Center. The BBC needs to work with all players in this space to make sure our programmes and content are enjoyed by the widest possible audience, without always having to come to bbc.co.uk to find it. The learnings from our US visit will very much inform our thinking on the BBC's creative future."

The MoU aims to identify areas of common interest between the BBC and Microsoft on which a strategic alliance could be developed. Areas of potential investigation and collaboration include search and navigation, distribution, and content enablement. Any actual procurements of new technology, or launch of new services by the BBC, would be subject to appropriate regulatory approval.

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