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BBC touts download-to-own iPlayer for complete archive

The entire BBC archive could become a download to own content store with shows for as little as £1.89.

The radical plan would give viewers access to the 93 per cent of the BBC’s archive which is currently impossible to access legally.

Run by the BBC’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, the Project Barcelona would include both archive classics and new shows still available on BBC iPlayer.

According to media industry site PaidContent, the BBC is proposing rates as low as £1.89 per show but would give independent producers over a third more revenue than iTunes.

The BBC said: “In addition to BBC iPlayer, the BBC already makes some of its content available on a download-to-own basis.

“Any proposal to extend this facility would require not just the support of the industry but formal approval by the BBC executive and the BBC Trust.”

Before it can launch, Project Barcelona would have to go through an assessment by the BBC Trust to survey public opinion and weigh its effect on the TV industry.

The BBC executive is understood to be concerned that much of its archive will never be released commercially because of the poor return and high investment risk to its owners.

According to Paid Content, Project Barcelona would not demand exclusive deals from content owners, who would still be able to use other distributors such as iTunes and Netflix.

BBC radio podcasts are already available on a free download-to-own basis for up to a week after broadcast.