BBC plans extra digital services

The BBC has outlined its next proposed set of digital services including a children’s channel, more channels based on repeats and news headline services for viewing on mobile phones.

The public consultation document, introduced by BBC chairman Sir Christopher Bland, has been unveiled as the Government considers the recommendations of a review into the future funding of the BBC.

Critics claim the BBC has overstretched itself by trying to launch too many new digital TV channels at the expense of its core services. At the Edinburgh TV Festival this month, BSkyB chief executive Tony Ball criticised the BBC’s “me-too” philosophy of launching services, such as BBC News 24, that were already provided by commercial operators.

The BBC’s proposals for the next raft of licence-fee funded services include developing more interactive content for its digital TV channels, launching new digital radio channels for a wider range of interests, and creating new repeat TV channels that cover the best of the BBC’s recent output in areas such as natural history. Other suggestions were to build up TV, radio and online services for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, increase Parliamentary coverage and start a new online news service for schools.

Further plans include launching the BBC’s own on-screen electronic programme guide showing the corporation’s services, and making use of technology involving the third generation of mobile phones to supply news and travel information to people on the move.

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