- 19 Feb 08, 09:53 GMT
Now this is an in-house story, so I'm going to have to strive even harder than usual to remain impartial, but this morning's announcement that BBC programmes are now on sale on Apple's iTunes store seems really significant to me.
The idea is that after getting access to BBC content for nothing for eight days via the iPlayer, you will then be able to pay £1.89 to download and own a programme from iTunes. It is the first time the BBC has asked UK viewers to pay to download content, and it will be interesting to see how they react. Millions have been happy to pay for DVDs of series like Little Britain - but will they react differently when they are asked to shell out for something they can't stick on a shelf?
But what is really different about this move is that it makes TV portable. I've just downloaded an episode of Life On Mars, which I will then be able to view on my computer, or on my television - or transfer to an iPod or iPhone so that I can watch it on the tube on the way to work.
At Mobile World Congress last week there was a lot of excitement about media on the move, but not many new ideas about getting compelling content to users. This seems a step forward in that respect.
The iTunes launch is a way for the BBC to try out a concept before the much more ambitious Project Kangaroo which will see a number of broadcasters come together with a platform offering thousands of hours of current and archive programming for paid downloading.
Of course, some are already swapping BBC content for free using file-sharing software - and as the music industry has found it's difficult to get people to pay for something they can get - albeit illegally - for nothing. But, once you've handed over your credit card details, buying a programme from iTunes is an awful lot easier and more reliable than hunting it down on the web and trying to suck it into your computer. The BBC - and other broadcasters - will be hoping that millions of viewers will now choose the simple option.
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