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Gervais features in BBC podcasts highlighting internet TV

LONDON - An interview with comedian Ricky Gervais is one of a number of special podcasts being offered by the BBC to highlight the boom in online TV, as a survey reveals usage has risen by three quarters in the last year.

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According to a BBC report, 43% of the UK population who have downloaded video from the internet to their computer or mobile phone at least once a week watched less TV as a result.

However, the survey also found that online video viewers were still in the minority, with only 9% using the service regularly; 13% watching occasionally; and 10% expecting to at some point within the next year.

From today, the BBC News website is hosting a series of podcasts and special features on internet TV usage, which will include an interview with Gervais, a guide to new TV technology and the growth of social media site YouTube.

Gervais, whose audio and video podcasts have become hits on the web, said amateur video would never replace TV but broadcasters would harness the power of the internet. 

 
"You can't knock up an episode of 'The Sopranos' or '24' on a little handheld digital camera," he told the BBC News website. "I don't think you'll ever be able to sidestep TV or DVD. But TV companies will embrace it." 

The comedian, star of 'The Office' and 'Extras', said the choice offered by new platforms was "exciting" and any future developments depended on how many people started using the technology. 
 
He said: "I'm sure when the BBC first launched, they were going: 'Ah, not many people have got tellies. Who's watching this?' So it's good to get your act together. And then people catch up with the know-how and the means to watch it." 

Online video usage remains most popular with the younger generation, with 28% of 16- to 24-year-olds saying they used it more than once a week, falling to 10% for those aged 25-44 and just 4% for over 45s.

According to media regulator Ofcom, the number of 16- to 24-year-olds watching TV daily fell by 2.9% between 2003 and 2005.

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