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BBC Online To Play Like MySpace

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[ Social Media]

The venerable British Broadcasting Company plans to dramatically update its online presence, and the social networking site MySpace has inspired the new design.

Visitors to the next generation BBC website will be able to “share, find, and play” in a fashion inspired by the much-publicized MySpace website. Ashley Highfield, the BBC director of new media and technology, announced several proposals to the network’s new media staff, the Guardian reported.

“BBC iPlayer is going to offer catch-up television up to seven days after transmission,” said Highfield. “At any time, you’ll be able to download any program from the eight BBC channels and then watch it on your PC and, we hope, move it across to your TV set or down to your mobile phone, to watch it when you want.”

Viewers would be able to do this through a rebranded MyBBCPlayer, called BBC iPlayer. The name mimics the naming scheme frequently used by Apple Computer for its products; before the iPod launched several years ago, iPlayer came up in speculation as the name of the new device.

Highfield defined the change as Beyond Broadcast in his talk with staffers. The share, find, and play philosophy represents the “three-pronged” focus of of taking all future BBC digital content and positioning it for the website’s users.

Ideally, they will embrace the content offered and build sites around that content, similar to what has happened on MySpace with unsigned bands. And more ideally, those users will be young consumers occupying the most desired demographics.

BBC Director General Mark Thompson’s remarks on the strategy appeared on the BBC’s website ahead of his speech to the Royal Television Society. He said “there’s a big shock coming” with regards to digital media:

“The second wave of digital will be far more disruptive than the first and the foundations of traditional media will be swept away, taking us beyond broadcasting. The BBC needs a creative response to the amazing, bewildering, exciting and inspiring changes in both technology and expectations.”


Bringing about the BBC’s new vision will require significant expenditures in technology. Unlike broadcasting companies familiar to Americans, the BBC receives its funding through a license fee paid annually by TV watchers.

That amounted to about $5.37 billion in 2005, Bloomberg reported, but the BBC wants its new contract with the government to provide a 2.3 increase over the inflation rate for the next seven years.

The article noted how companies like Walt Disney and News Corp have complained about the long-standing taxpayer subsidy of a business that competes directly with commercial interests. However, the BBC does have a lengthy history of producing some excellent news and entertainment content, so at least some of that money has been well-spent.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

BBC Online To Play Like MySpace
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