The BBC is planning to make its entire archive available to watch, listen to and download online, in a scheme expected to be announced by the corporation later this week.
The proposals will give licence fee payers access to over 1m hours of archive footage.
A trial, which will involve 20,000 users, will reportedly start next month, and the service is expected to be available nationally in a year’s time.
The archive is expected to be free to licence payers, but there are suggestions that the programming will be accompanied by advertising, which would almost certainly get a few people going.
Charging overseas viewers to access the archive may well be another way for the corporation to raise revenues.
It plans to make everything from its archive available online, no matter how obscure, though it first has to clear the copyright on the material and have the plan approved by the BBC Trust.