In a bit of a surprise move, the British Broadcasting Corporation announced it was planning an iTunes-style downloading service that would allow viewers to get recent or archived broadcasts from a BBC online store for a fee.

Reuters reports the software, code named Project Barcelona, would allow viewers to buy BBC programming for what was termed a “modest fee.”

BBC Director General Mark Thompson did not specify a time of release or pricing. Thomson says the software will be like going into a store and buying a DVD. It’s expected such a service would be a potential rival for iTunes and other content suppliers. Many BBC programs are offered on iTunes and it’s not known if the corporation would pull the plug on that outlet.

The project does not originate at BBC Worldwide, which would be its home if the product was going to offered outside the U.K., for now it looks like something the BBC domestic audience.

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