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Would you pay to download from the BBC archives?

How would you feel about paying the BBC to download and keep some of its shows? The BBC’s new digital store could offer just that – but will TV licence fee payers be willing cough up the dosh?

BBC director-general Mark Thompson recently announced ‘Project Barcelona’ – a proposal that could let us permanently download a vast selection of shows via a new BBC digital store.

While all the most popular TV series inevitably make it onto DVD these days, that still leaves a huge chunk of entertainment that fades into obscurity. The Beeb estimates that more than 90% of its programmes are no longer available after their limited time on the BBC iPlayer is up.

Paying twice for the same content?

Early concerns about the service focus on whether the BBC’s proposal will adversely affect other retailers – such as iTunes – that currently sell BBC programmes as downloads.

And there’s also a big question mark hanging over whether it’s right for the BBC to ask licence fee payers to pay again to keep downloads of shows that were funded by their fee in the first place.

The way I see it, my TV licence pays for the programmes to be made. If I want to keep a show and watch it over and over again, I don’t expect it to be free. If the BBC puts the money from my purchase into making more of the stuff I like, great, although there are bound to be some costs involved in setting up and running the online store.

There are also likely to be a few technicalities to iron out, and it’s far from being a done deal – plans will be put to the BBC Trust later in the year. It’s also not yet clear what proportion of the BBC’s archive will be available, or how modest the ‘modest fee’ will be (some sources hypothesise £1.89).

Is it worth it for TV gold?

So, is this a welcome change that will allow us to get our hands on some TV gold for a few quid, or would you resent paying the BBC to download your favourite shows?

Personally, I like the idea if it means I can get my hands on TV gems from the past which have never seen the light of day on DVD. The question is: how much would you be willing to pay for nostalgia, and will those 70s and 80s shows that we remember so fondly still be worth watching again, decades later?

Oh and my personal request to the Beeb: if you’re starting with a small portion of the archive please put Over Here at the top of the pile. I hope it really was as good as I remember…

Would you pay to download shows from the BBC archives?

No - BBC shows should be free for licence fee payers (60%, 622 Votes)

Maybe - if the price is right and the shows are good (27%, 283 Votes)

Yes - I'd love to pay for some BBC TV gold (12%, 129 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,034

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It is about time the vast BBC archives were made available. I very much regret the era when classic programmes were routinely wiped, but there is no point in storing all this material unless people can see it.

Should it be free like library books or some national museums? Ideally yes, but I doubt this is practical. It would cost money to operate and it would have to be paid for somehow either through general taxes or by an increased fee.

No-one seems to be arguing that popular programmes on DVD should be provided free, so I have no objection to paying a small cost to download and keep less popular programmes that I’d like to see again. But I do mean a small cost.