BBC Director General Mark Thompson announced proposals for an iTunes-style download service that would allow viewers to permanently download their favorite programs minutes after they have been broadcast for a fee.

The plan, named Project Barcelona, would allow viewers to purchase a digital copy of a program to own in perpetuity for a relatively modest charge.

He said the BBC intended to open a digital shop for such downloads, but did not specify the timescale or pricing.

The plans will be put before the BBC Trust later this year.

Our ambition would ultimately be to let everyone who pays the license fee access all of our programs on this basis and, over time, to load more and more of our archive, said Thompson, who was speaking at the Royal Television Society in London.

Thompson described the scheme as the digital equivalent of people buying a DVD of their favorite program for a permanent collection.

Other BBC digital services, such as the iPlayer, its web-based catch-up provider, have been hugely popular with viewers, and, if it is launched, the new service could impact rivals such as Apple's iTunes as well as DVD makers.

(Reporting by Stephen Mangan; Editing by Andrew Osborn)