The BBC is planning to offer licence fee-payers access to around 1.2m hours of video and programme clips online.
In an interview with The Independent, the corporation's director of technology and new media, Ashley Highfield, said that a pilot scheme will be launched early next year, when "a few hundred hours" of the broadcaster's back catalogue will be initially available to view.
About a quarter of the BBC's archive—around 300,000 hours of content—has already been digitised. A selection of it will be streamed from near the beginning of 2007, when visitors to the corporation's web site will be able to search for and compile clips from their favourite shows, including Top Gear, The Apprentice and The Mighty Boosh. Newsnight, Panorama and other news programmes will be offered via a 'watch again' service.
Highfield went on to tell The Independent that he hopes the BBC's online archive will eventually allow users to compile and edit their own composite TV shows from the clips on offer, and see then create their own viewing schedules.
He told the national daily title: "Let's provide the content and the tools and the safe environment and let our audience make some of the decisions. If they want to compile their half-hour of the best of Stephen Fry by pulling together clips from A Bit of Fry and Laurie or Blackadder or QI, then they should be able to do that."
Highfield added that he hopes that that rest of the corporation's programming will be put online after resolutions to rights issues have been found. They are part of the "triple whammy" that the BBC is currently facing in its efforts to digitise all its content, Highfield told The Independent. Other issues currently creating obstacles are difficulties with technology and the limited availability of broadband.
At around the same time as the archive trial begins, the BBC hopes to launch its long-awaited iPlayer, to allow web visitors to watch the broadcaster's TV shows for a week following their original transmission.
Lovelace Consulting | 15.08.2006