The BBC are going to make their whole archive of programmes and media downloadable by the public.
I can’t actually describe this any better than Danny has and Alan Connor has, except to say: wow. This is bloody superb. Not only is this what the BBC is all about, but it shows that they know that and really appreciate their mission (to “inform, educate, and entertain”, as Lord Reith put it and Danny O’Brien reminds us). Bloody well done Auntie Beeb! This is great. Plus, I get all the free programmes I like. Wow!
A couple of minor caveats: Stuart Houghton notes that we need to ensure that it’s in an accessible format: I can cope with RealMedia if I have to, but it could be DivX compressed AVIs or something. Not just Windows Media Player. And at the moment Radio 4’s Listen Again programme doesn’t cover everything, and until recently didn’t cover comedy at all; I’m not sure how much of the Beeb’s archive is actually owned by the Beeb.
One of the best things about this is that BBC7, the digital station, plays lots of reruns of old comedy radio shows like I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue. Anyone doing this with a commercial eye would think that a free archive would endanger BBC7 and reduce listening figures, but that doesn’t apply to the Beeb because they’re there to give us great entertainment for free; BBC7 will stop being the only way we can get at old programmes, and start becoming the way we know what the best programmes in the old archive are. Superb.
And I tell you what: this ought to shut up those whingers who complain about the licence fee.
Yay the Beeb! Did I say this? Yay!