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BBC director general Mark Thompson has confirmed that the Corporation will launch an iTunes-like service, which will allow viewers to pay for and keep programming.Project Barcelona will make content available to download “for a relatively modest fee,” almost instantly after hit shows like Doctor Who and Top Gear have aired on television.The proposal, which will also see BBC open its archives to offer classic shows like Fawlty Towers and Only Fools and Horses, will be put before the BBC Trust later this year.Thompson, however, was not drawn on when the service will launch or how much each episode would cost, while announcing the plans at the Royal Television Society in London.Not a second license feeAlthough the scheme may face opposition from independent production companies fearing a loss of DVD sales, Thompson said Project Barcelona would essentially offer the same thing.He said: “This is not a second licence-fee by stealth or any reduction in the current public service offering from the BBC – it’s the exact analogy of going into a high-street shop to buy a DVD or, before that, a VHS cassette.”For decades the British public has understood the distinction between watching Dad’s Army on BBC1 and then going out to buy a permanent copy of it. Barcelona is the digital equivalent of doing the second.”Speculation this weekend, prior to the BBC’s announcement, suggested that £1.89 could be the standard fee, while Thomson confirmed that there’ll be no time limit on when shows can be purchased.A bite out of AppleThe BBC already offers a huge array of its most popular content on iTunes so Project Barcelona looks like it’ll be a more instant way of obtaining the content to own, rather than waiting until the end of the series. It also gives BBC the chance to take some of that revenue away from Apple and boost its own coffers, as it seeks to earn more cash amid the license fee freeze.Overall, it’s a massively intriguing concept. Will Eastenders fans be willing to pay to keep those memorable Christmas episodes to watch again in future years?Related StoriesExclusive: Netflix: we are not focusing on offering offline contentSky Store gets more movies, takes on LovefilmAereo TV goes live in NYC, despite legal challenges

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BBC download-to-own service confirmed

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