The BBC wants to be a major player in the digital media world and is considering partnerships with private businesses to sell music downloads, Director-General Mark Thompson said on Saturday.
The publicly-funded broadcaster is testing software called MyBBCPlayer to let users download its TV and radio programing, and plans to use its powerful presence to take its place among Internet media giants like Google (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research) and Yahoo (YHOO.O: Quote, Profile, Research).
"Everything we know about the online world suggests that it’s the big brands — the eBays (EBAY.O: Quote, Profile, Research), the Amazons (AMZN.O: Quote, Profile, Research), the Microsofts (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research) — that punch through, and the BBC is one of the big brands," Thompson said in a speech at the Edinburgh Television Festival.The British Broadcasting Corporation’s Web site is the fifth most popular in Britain, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.
It already makes recent radio programmes available for post-broadcast listening on its Web site, and in recent months, 1.4 million users downloaded recordings of nine Beethoven symphonies that the broadcaster offered for free.
There were 60 million online requests for video footage following the London bombings.
Thompson said that people listening to BBC Radio 1 online could eventually click on a link to buy a song being broadcast.
The idea that "there needs to be a vast cordon sanitaire" between public service and commercial transactions "flies in the face of the way the public actually use the media now," he said.