LONDON — The BBC is preparing to put all its TV channels online — but the video streams will only be available to users in the U.K.
No firm dates have been fixed for making BBC1, Blighty’s most popular channel, BBC2, kids channels CBeebies and CBBC, and upscale web BBC4 available online, but the pubcaster hopes the move will be complete before the end of the year.
The corporation’s website, recently criticized by the BBC Trust for overspending, is one of Blighty’s most popular sites, while the seven-day catch up service, the iPlayer, launched on Christmas Day, is a huge success.
BBC director-general Mark Thompson said: “Building on the success of the iPlayer, we want to develop BBC.co.uk to include a broad range of the BBC’s broadcast content, as well as new and interactive forms of media that enable audiences to interact with and contribute to the website.”
Blighty’s biggest commercial web, ITV, already simulcasts its channels on the web.
BBC digital channels, youth skewed BBC3 and the recently re-branded news service, BBC News Channel, are available online.
Putting live streams of BBC1 and BBC2 on the web will fan the flames of a hotly debated issue: how to force auds that only watch online to pay the TV license fee, which funds all U.K. BBC services to the tune of around $6 billion a year.