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The BBC is to extend its trial of downloadable content from 5,000 to 20,000 people.

Anyone signing up for the trial will get access to TV and radio archive programmes, as well as scripts and programme notes. The original trial involved 1,500, which was increased to 5,000 in 2005.

The final aim is to allow viewers to download anything from the archive through their TV. But for the purposes of the trial only about 1,000 hours of content will be available.

Ashley Highfield, director of future media and technology at the BBC, announced the changes at a new media trade show in Cannes, France.

He also said the BBC's iPlayer - through which content is accessed - will be re-written to work on Macs and eventually on set-top boxes too.

Highfield complained that Apple's "proprietary and closed framework for digital rights management gives us headaches".

Highfield said the trial will help the BBC decide "where we should draw the line between a licence fee funded service and a commercial service".

The Beeb will also trial set-top boxes which can record broadcast TV as well as download web content. Some of this technology might find its way onto Freeview boxes in the future.

The archive trial is separate from the iPlayer, which gives access to the last seven days of programming.

A spokeswoman for the BBC said it had already been inundated with requests to take part in the trial, but if you're a woman living in Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland please get in touch.

More from the Beeb here. ®

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