Entertainment & Arts

BBC 'to launch personalised iPlayer'

Strictly Come Dancing
Image caption Strictly Come Dancing is a popular catch-up programme on the iPlayer

The BBC's director general Tony Hall is expected to announce the launch of the next generation BBC iPlayer in a keynote speech on Tuesday.

It is understood he will explain his vision for an enhanced iPlayer, allowing users to personalise their viewing and listening choices.

The iPlayer, launched in 2007, provides a catch-up service for BBC TV and radio programmes.

The speech is Lord Hall's first since his joining speech in April.

Entitled Where Next?, Lord Hall's speech will discuss the technological challenges facing the BBC, as more people turn to the internet via mobile phones and tablets to watch TV.

As part of this focus, BBC Radio 1 has announced it is going to get its own channel on the iPlayer.

The station said this will allow fans to watch exclusive performances and interviews not broadcast anywhere else.

It is hoped that the channel will help Radio 1 reach more young people.

Image caption The BBC is expected to announce a partnership with the British Museum

Content will include music featured in Radio 1's Live Lounge and at the annual Big Weekend festival as well as interviews with celebrities and artists from around the world.

But as the iPlayer becomes more bespoke for each user, media commentators have already begun to question the validity of the fixed licence fee paid by the public.

Writing in the Guardian on Sunday, Steve Hewlett wrote: "One question that must surely arise in the unbundled 'My BBC' world is, once I've picked out the bits of the BBC I use and value, why should I pay for the rest?

"And because the technology of on-demand delivery that underpins the whole project allows subscription in a way that broadcast TV and radio don't - at least not easily - 'My BBC' will inevitably in time reignite the question of subscription funding, for some BBC services at least."

Lord Hall will also announce the launch of an app for mobile phones and tablets to allow listeners to hear their favourite radio programmes in one place.

The app will showcase new pieces of content each day. Users will be able to choose what they want to hear and when they want to hear it.

In time, users will be able to personalise their choices, with the app suggesting programmes they may like depending on their interests and the time they have available.

It will feature programmes from stations including BBC Radio 4, Radio 3 and the World Service.

Director of BBC Radio Helen Boaden said: "Listeners will get outstanding programmes from brilliant brains in a way which fits into their packed lives."

A launch is planned in 2014, with content available both in the UK and internationally.

In Tuesday's speech, Lord Hall will also flesh out the details of a 20% increase in funding for the BBC's arts coverage.

The director general - who used to run the Royal Opera House - is keen to return the arts to the corporation's "heart".

It will mean plays, art exhibitions and more live music from around the UK being broadcast on the BBC.

Among Lord Hall's proposals are a new "BBC Arts at" brand, while two new television series will be fronted by historian Simon Schama and broadcaster Andrew Marr respectively.

Lord Hall also wants to see the BBC collaborate more with arts institutions around the country.

The director general is expected to unveil new partnerships with London's British Museum, the Tate and the Manchester International Festival.

The plans mean that more opening nights, major exhibitions and arts events will be shown live on television.

The announcements are part of the director general's new strategy for the BBC and come as the corporation is in the process of cutting 2,000 jobs by 2017 after the freezing of the licence fee.

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