The BBC has always been at the vanguard of new media in the Web 2.0 era, thanks in part to their public service charter – but also they obviously have a lot of smart, innovative thinkers on board. Today they announced “ 2.0”, which will be a full-on attempt to turn BBC online into a Web 2.0 poster boy. They’re even going to create a “public service version of”, according the The Guardian report.

The project has been named ‘Beyond Broadcast’ and it outlines “a three-pronged approach to refocus all future BBC digital output and services around three concepts – “share”, “find” and “play”.” According to Ashley Highfield, the BBC director of new media and technology, “share” is the key concept.

The most interesting angle for me though is the “play” part, which is really where BBC’s strength lies. The sharing and finding are not their core services, despite their desire (and no doubt ability) to compete with the likes of MySpace and Yahoo. Given BBC’s huge stock of professional media content and their existing multimedia technologies, the “play” is I suspect what 2.0 will look to as its linchpin:

“At the heart of the play concept is MyBBCPlayer, which will allow the public to download and view BBC programming online and was today rebranded as BBC iPlayer.

“BBC iPlayer is going to offer catch-up television up to seven days after transmission,” said Mr Highfield. “At any time you will be able to download any programme from the eight BBC channels and watch it on your PC and, we hope, move it across to your TV set or down to your mobile phone to watch it when you want.”

In any case, once again kudos to the BBC for leading the charge into 21st century web-based media. I hope my own New Zealand government proceeds down a similar path, with its NZ Online initiative (of which I’m a part of, as a ThinkTank member).