The BBC is said to be planning a new pay-to-download service for both its new and old TV programmes.

As reported by paidContent, BBC executives want to make all shows available as download-to-own (DTO) for around £1.89 per show from a service that it hopes would rival iTunes.

The BBC has already begun negotiations for rights with some of the independent producers that provide content, and there is support internally for the scheme, cryptically named Project Barcelona, since it would be a new source of revenue – as well as a way to potentially combat piracy.

However, producers still have some reservations around the exact revenue share and a potential cannibalisation of DVD sales.

The BBC remains coy on the subject, simply stating that in addition to its iPlayer, the corporation already makes some of its content available on a DTO basis. 

Any proposal to extend this facility would require not just the support of the industry but formal approval by the BBC Executive and the BBC Trust.”

All BBC shows are made available for 30 days after broadcast on iPlayer, after which the rights pass to BBC Worldwide or the shows’ producers.

They are then licensed to paid-for download services such as iTunes and Blinkbox.

But only 7% of the BBC’s content is available through third-parties, so it wants to free up access to the rest of its back catalogue.

paidContent suggests that the BBC is trying to entice producers to back its scheme by offering them a greater share of episode revenue than iTunes delivers – an average of 40p on a £1.89 download compared to 28p from iTunes.

It thinks this could generate at least £13m in revenue for independent producers over the next five years.

Project Barcelona could prove controversial as the Beeb regularly comes under fire over the cost of its licence fee, which currently stands at £145.50 a year.

But it makes sense for the BBC to try and claw back some of the money that the likes of iTunes currently makes from its old shows, and if it can offer producers a better deal then its competitors it probably won’t be long until the scheme becomes a reality.