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BBC readying iTunes competitor?

The BBC is reportedly working on a competitor to iTunes, selling its shows for £1.89 an episode.

The iTunes Store may be a runaway success in the world of online downloads, but that won't stop other media groups, such as the BBC, launching their own competing services. Auntie is preparing to make its enormous catalogue of old and new shows available for pay to download, making it a rival to iTunes, paidContent reports.

The BBC is currently in talks with independent producers that make some of the shows, with the producers in favour as it'd make them money as well as protecting against piracy. If it ever sees the light of day, the BBC store would charge £1.89 per episode, matching Apple's pricing (though Apple also charges £2.49 for newer offerings).

The scheme is codenamed Project Barcelona.

While in theory the producers are in favour, they're yet to give their full blessing, as they're unsure about revenue share, exclusivity, and how it could impact on DVD sales, meaning that negotiations are still ongoing.

At the moment, you can watch shows for free on iPlayer up to 30 days after broadcast. After that the rights go to the commercial arm of the Beeb BBC Worldwide, or to the shows' original producers, both of whom license said shows to services like iTunes and Blinkbox. There's no word yet on how this would impact the availability of BBC shows on iTunes.

Currently only 7 per cent of BBC shows are available through third parties, so Auntie is keen to make the remaining 93 per cent through its own service. And make a tidy sum at the same time. Though any such scheme would need the approval of the BBC Trust, so don't expect it to launch anytime soon.

Apple is currently in talks with channels regarding launching its own subscription-based TV service, though that's shrouded in secrecy. It's not going too well though, if reports are to be believed. With the BBC's huge back catalogue, this could be a decent alternative.

What do you think? Would you buy shows from such a BBC service? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.