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BBC proposes public service TV over broadband alliance

LONDON - BT, the UK's largest ISP, and ITV are supporting new BBC proposals to establish a united approach to developing and promoting free-to-view broadband-connected digital TV receivers.

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The BBC wants to create an alliance of public service broadcasters, device developers and ISPs to shape the evolution of the nascent technology, which has been brought to market by BT Vision and Virgin Media.

The plan, which is subject to approval by the BBC Trust, is part of the BBC management's response to the ongoing review of the future of public service broadcasting, which is aimed partly at solving the funding crisis facing Channel 4.

It envisages: "A new generation of subscription-free devices, carrying free-to-air channels and a huge selection of on-demand TV services like iPlayer and ITV Player, as well as the potential for films, shows and interactive content from a range of other providers in standard and high definition."

The BBC has already secured the backing of ITV, which is already its partner in video on-demand content alliance Kangaroo, though there was no mention of third Kangaroo partner Channel 4.

Michael Grade, executive chairman of ITV, said: "This proposal will bring catch-up from the PC to the TV set in your living room, and all for free.

"We are delighted to be working with the BBC, BT and other ISPs to bring this idea to fruition for viewers."

"This makes convergence a reality. It will also future-proof our free-to-air platforms, Freeview and Freesat."

BT chief executive Ian Livingston, said: "Television and broadband are a compelling combination. Together they can offer live TV along with an unrivalled choice of on-demand content and interactive services."

Mark Thompson, director-general of the BBC, said: "Audiences tell us that they want more services through their television set.

"I am pleased that the BBC is working with industry partners such as device manufacturers, ISPs and other content providers on proposals which will bring real benefits for consumers.

"We are building on a history of collaborating with and supporting the industry in research and development which includes NICAM stereo, Teletext and Freeview."

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