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BBC to launch device that brings web video onto TV

LONDON - The BBC is planning to develop a user-friendly device that transfers web video such as its successful on-demand iPlayer service onto TV screens, bring it into competition with Apple among others.

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The device, which would be similar to Apple TV, would allow consumers to plug a box into their TV and broadband connection to instantly receive IPTV, according to a report in the Financial Times.

Mark Thompson, BBC director-general, told the FT: "There are many things out there in the market but what we haven't got is a simple standard, to mean that you can get services like iPlayer and Kangaroo."

The corporation is understood to be talking to other content owners and hardware manufactures.

Apple TV, which launched in the UK last year, features a set-top box that connects to a television via a HDMI port or component video port. Wireless capability then synchronises files from an iTunes library to the TV, ready to watch.

However, users can only access content that is available through the iTunes store, as well as YouTube videos.

The BBC's plan could put it into competition against BSkyB and its digital video recorder service Sky+.

The BBC's plans come as it launches a new version of its iPlayer today, which integrates its TV and radio content in one place for the first time.

iPlayer's new version will feature a larger playback screen, a TV schedule that allows users to plan their viewing over the coming days, and a "last played" facility to allow viewers to resume watching a programme where they left off.

It will also integrate on-demand radio and will run in parallel with the existing iPlayer for the next few weeks.

'Doctor Who' and 'The Apprentice' dominate the top 20 most requested programmes to download or stream on BBC iPlayer with BBC Three shows also doing well with six in the top 20.

These include the award-winning comedy 'Gavin And Stacey', which received approximately a quarter of a million requests in the week from April 19 to 25, on top of a weekly reach of three million, suggesting that certain programmes have the potential to significantly increase share through BBC iPlayer.

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