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(Pocket-lint) - The BBC is to launch a premium download video service to take on the likes of Apple's ITunes.

The move - part of an initiative called Project Barcelona - has long been rumoured but has now been officially confirmed by BBC director-general Mark Thompson.

Speaking at an event for the Royal Television Society, the Beeb bossman said: "For decades the British public has understood the distinction between watching Dad's Army on BBC1 and then going out to buy a permanent copy of it. Barcelona is the digital equivalent of doing the second."

The idea is that just minutes after a show ends on Auntie's network, it will be available to download and keep digitally. So, a different proposition from the BBC's iPlayer, which allows for streaming and downloading for a limited time only.

"This is not a second licence-fee by stealth or any reduction in the current public service offering from the BBC," said Thompson. "It's the exact analogy of going into a high-street shop to buy a DVD or, before that, a VHS cassette."

The "digital ownership" of the programmes would be available permanently for "a modest fee", he said

That fee is expected to be around £1.89 per programme. In comparison, Top Gear on iTunes would cost you £2.49 , Benidorm £1.89 and Only Fools and Horses £1.49. So we'd expect some flexibility around the £1.89 price, especially with Thompson promising "to load more and more of our archive into the window" over time.

No set date for the service as of yet. We'll keep you posted.

Writing by Paul Lamkin. Originally published on 16 April 2013.