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One of the truly great strengths of the Internet is its ability to be a repository for nearly everything. The BBC is the latest to make a deposit with its plan to puts its entire archive of television and radio shows online, according to The Guardian. It will create a page for every single episode, of every single program that has aired on the channel — for the past 81 years!

This radio and television archive follows in the steps of the archiving many print media publications are using the Internet for. For example, The New York Times allows you to search its archive that spans back to 1851. Similarly, many magazines make back-issues available to subscribers online. Bookseller Barnes & Noble and electronic publisher Zinio recently teamed up to make magazines from the past available online.

All of this archiving isn’t just for posterity’s sake. All of those examples require payment of one form or another. The BBC plan will be a bit different as some of the content will be free if it exists elsewhere on the Internet, but other programs will require payment. To that end, this archive will be utilizing existing services such as Apple’s iTunes store and its own iPlayer to point visitors to the correct place to find the content they are looking for.

This new archiving project is likely a result of the popularity of the iPlayer. The site, which displays BBC programs online, is the 3rd most popular video site in the UK, behind only the American and the UK versions of YouTube.

Here’s to hoping that the American networks start up their own archiving projects as well. The lack of M*A*S*H availability online is really starting to irk me.

[photo: BBC]

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