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BBC plans for on-demand future

Several initiatives mooted

The BBC has launched several initiatives as a result of a year-long research project aimed at embracing emerging technologies, including a competition to recreate its homepage, the company said yesterday.

The initiatives are designed to take advantage of the on-demand concept, which includes delivering content to viewers via the internet and wireless devices whenever they want it, the broadcaster said.

Among them is a competition for ideas to redesign the BBC website to take advantage of Web 2.0 technology. The final product should feel like a personalised homepage to visitors and could build on innovations spurred by Flickr, Wikipedia, Microsoft Live and others, according to BBC. The site is also expected to include elements that let visitors contribute to blogs and share home videos.

On Wednesday, the BBC also plans to launch a prototype site where visitors can find information about any of the one million programs stored in its archives dating back to 1937, the company said.

Key to that website is another initiative underway at the BBC: a content-labelling procedure to improve its search mechanisms. 'Cracking' metadata is a priority, the broadcaster said.

The BBC plans to launch a service called iPlayer, which will allow users to stream television and radio programs live over the internet and download programs within seven days of their original broadcast. The service, based on a trial of a similar offering, conducted recently by the BBC, would allow users to transfer the downloaded programs to their mobile phones for viewing on the move, the company said.

Moreover, the BBC is planning Eyewitness, an online project that will allow anyone to share stories about memories or events that happened on each day over the past 100 years.

The initiatives stem from the Creative Future research project launched a year ago. The goal of the project, involving audience members and other partners, was to create a plan for delivering BBC content and services in an on-demand environment.

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