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BBC Extends Broadband TV Trial

The BBC has announced a two-month extension of the ongoing 5,000 user trial of its integrated Media Player (iMP), a technology which will enable a broadband programming catch-up service that will offer TV and radio programs for seven days after their initial linear broadcast (the trial began in September). The extension means that trial participants will have access to the iMP until February 28th.

The Corporation says that the extension will allow it to gather more reliable data on user needs and on how people use the service: "We really want to understand the benefits that iMP can bring to our audiences," the BBC's Internet controller, Tony Ageh, explained. "We know that there is likely to be a 'honeymoon' period of a few weeks, when our participants are likely to use iMP more often than normal. The data from the extra two months should really help us to comprehend what users want from the service and how they are using it. This will be invaluable for us in making our case to the BBC Board of Governors for a full roll out of iMP."

Around 500 programs are available on the iMP to trial participants every week. The service is based on the BBC's RadioPlayer, which lets viewers listen to a selection of BBC radio programs up to seven days after their broadcast, and on peer-to-peer distribution technology from US-based Kontiki, which is also being used by BSkyB for a broadband programming service.

Digital Rights Management software deletes programs after seven days, and also prevents end-users from emailing programming files to other users or burning them to disks. Geo-IP software will restrict access to the service to UK users; however, the BBC is expected to eventually allow international users to access the service on a pay-per-view basis.

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