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BBC will share iTV expertise with industry says Grade

LONDON - Michael Grade, chairman of the BBC, has said that the corporation was prepared to share expertise with the interactive TV industry to help create a vibrant market.

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At the same time, Grade revealed that there would be a new service for interactive viewers on 'Ten O'Clock News' called 'Ten Extra', offering extra material specially created for interactive viewers for three of the evening's top stories.

He made the comments speaking on Thursday at the Interactive TV Show in Barcelona, saying that it was up to the BBC to invigorate the interactive television market.

The corporation has faced criticism from commercial rivals that it has used licence-fee money to develop its services. Grade acknowledged this criticism in his speech.

"We must never forget that the BBC has been able to achieve its current leadership position in interactive partly because its secure funding has allowed it to make substantial investments in this new technology at a time when others in the industry have not been able to. This puts certain obligations on us," he said.

At the conference, he said that the BBC was a resource for the whole industry, and said that all the BBC audience insight was available to the industry, and that the corporation's training courses were now open to people working in interactive.

"I consider the great store of knowledge the BBC has amassed about interactive to be not just a BBC resource, but a resource for the whole industry, including other broadcasters," Grade said.

Grade cited the BBC's recent Olympic Games interactive offering as an effective use of interactive, allowing the corporation to broadcast 1,000 hours of events -- five times more than during the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

However, he said that the potential of interactive TV was just being scratched, and that the success was just a pointer to the future.

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