LONDON: UK broadcaster Channel 4 has claimed a world first by offering its entire program schedule and archive classics via a video-on-demand internet platform.

The company, state-owned but commercially funded, will give viewers the opportunity to watch 'homegrown' programs online for up to 30 days after they are aired on TV at cost of £0.99 ($1.87; €1.46). The same content can be purchased and kept for £1.99.

The new service, to be launched on December 6, is branded 4oD and its only omissions will be certain US imports such as The Simpsons which are shared with other broadcasters.

In February, Channel 4 will also launch a monthly subscription option for TV and/or films at £5.99 for both. New business director Rod Henwood says it will help to "turn viewers into customers".

Ceo Andy Duncan believes in five years around a third to one half of all viewing will be time-shifted, whether through its internet TV service or other catch-up offerings.

The broadcaster, in common with its rivals, is looking for ways to offset the decline in viewing brought about by media fragmentation and the consequent drop in advertising revenues.

There will be no ads on the VOD programs or on the dedicated website at first, but Channel 4 says it hopes to generate ad income from April next.

Data sourced from The Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff