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Top prices, old shows - the Beeb's iPlayer goes global

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The BBC's ramping up efforts to launch an iPlayer-like internet video service outside the UK, but has rejected using ad-funded model to squeeze as much money as possible from its programming.

BBC Worldwide managing director Luke Bradley-Jones told Paid Content the service would not offer the latest domestic UK shows to audiences abroad, but rather pay-per-view material from BBC's international channels like BBC America, "premium catalogue" material like Doctor Who and Torchwood, and content from the BBC's "deep archives."

The internet video service may also charge much higher prices than iTunes does for TV shows if they believe there's enough demand.

"Millions of people love Torchwood and would probably pay 10 bucks an episode rather than two bucks," Bradley-Jones said. Apparently BBCWW doesn't think sci-fi nerds on the internet aren't savvy enough to get the same shows sold cheaper elsewhere.

He dismissed the notion of an international iPlayer being a free service supported by advertisements, citing a weak market for digital ad sales. "You need real scale to deliver ad-funded content - Hulu's not there yet," Bradley-Jones said. Many shows, such as those on BBC America, are also only allowed to be sold online for licensing reasons.

The international iPlayer plans, reportedly six months in development, will first require approval from the BBC Trust, the corporation's governing arm.

In the meantime, BBCWW intends to sell applications on several mobile platforms, where it sees "a much higher willingness to pay for content." Commercial BBC mobile apps will likely cost around $2 and arrive in the next few months, Bradley-Jones said. ®

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