BBC Eyes iTunes, Apple TV Carriage; Hollywood Unlocks Door To A Mac iPlayer

He asked for it, now he’s got it. BBC future media and technology director Ashley Highfield writes the new Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) TV “take-two”, “coupled with Apple’s move to a rental model, means that we can look to getting BBC iPlayer onto this platform too as we should be able to use the rental functionality to allow our programmes to be downloaded, free, but retained for a time window, and then erased, as our rightsholders currently insist”.

Highfield foretold last night’s Steve Jobs Macworld keynote announcement last week when he bemoaned electronics makers’ efforts at cracking the living room web TV conundrum. Jobs unveiled an iTunes Movie Rentals addition as well as an Apple TV update that means the box no longer requires a computer.

In other words, Hollywood studios’ condition that iTunes be re-engineered to manage their wares as rentals – downloads can be kept for 30 days but expire a day after viewing – opens the door for the BBC to seek modifications that make good on its Terms Of Trade agreement with UK TV producers’ body Pact. Those producers’ shows can be made available on-demand within a week of transmission and must expire within 30 days to give ample commercial exploitation opportunity to original owners, but the addition of a rental infrastructure to iTunes would seem to accommodate other rights windows.

Embracing these platforms would give the BBC the opportunity to finally put paid to those lingering accusations of Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) favouritism and offer a true Mac version of iPlayer. The catch-up player is already scheduled to appear on Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED) in the next couple of months, and don’t bet against more platforms like Xbox Live or BT (NYSE: BT) Vision. The Apple TV update is available now; outside of the US, movie rentals arrive “later this year”.

See our detailed Macworld coverage from last night…

(Photo: Niall Kennedy, some rights reserved)