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UK broadcasters to launch joint on-demand service

A British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) satellite dish is seen behind houses in west London, October 18, 2007. UK broadcasters ITV, BBC Worldwide and Channel 4 are to launch an on-demand content service in 2008 that will bring together more than 10,000 hours of programming. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - UK broadcasters ITV, BBC Worldwide and Channel 4 are to launch an on-demand content service in 2008 that will bring together more than 10,000 hours of programming.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the three groups said the service would initially be Web-based and be available for distribution on other platforms. Both current and archive programming will be streamed and available for download and viewers will be able to watch for free, rent or buy.

All broadcasters have moved to make their programming available online in recent years, as younger people spend more time on the Internet.

But different pricing levels and formats have led analysts to criticize some of the offerings.

The three groups said the planned on-demand service would build on the experience of their existing Internet platforms, 4OD, ITV.com and the BBC’s iPlayer.

The joint venture has appointed Lesley MacKenzie, previously a director of channels and operations at BSkyB, as launch CEO.

The joint venture will be owned equally and will work independently as an aggregator of content from the three parties and also third-party content.

The plans are subject to formal approval from the BBC Trust and each broadcaster’s board.

“TV on the internet is a rapidly growing medium,” Andy Duncan, Channel 4 Chief Executive said. “We want to continue to build and innovate in this area ... and believe that partnering and sharing expertise is the best way of doing this.”

Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Mark Potter and Quentin Bryar

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