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This chart shows that Netflix had more than 4.3 million UK subscribers in the first quarter of 2015. Photo: Ofcom

BBC reportedly in talks with other UK broadcasters to launch a British Netflix rival

Viewers expected to be able to watch programmes which are more than a month old, for a fee

The BBC has reportedly been encouraged by the UK government to launch an online subscription service that could rival Netflix and Amazon Prime.

The publicly-funded British broadcaster has held talks with competitors, including ITV and NBC Universal, about collaborating to build the new service, according to reports in The Telegraph and The Guardian.

This suggests that the online streaming service, which is reported to have the working title "Britflix," would also include content not produced by the BBC, making it a direct competitor with Netflix.

The BBC and ITV declined to comment, while NBC were not immediately available for a response.

UK culture secretary John Whittingdale told The Telegraph: "We’re moving into a different world where more and more content is going to be made available on demand. Collaboration with other broadcasters and other production companies we think is important. If they want to explore that kind of thing, we’d encourage them."

"Britflix" is also expected to charge viewers to watch a back catalog of programmes that were broadcast more than 30 days previously. Currently programs that were aired within the last 30 days are free to watch on the BBC's catch-up service iPlayer.

The new service may also include original content. However, existing shows are not expected to be put behind a pay wall. At this stage, there are no details for how the premium streaming service will look.

BBC talks with ITV and NBC have been ongoing since at least March, when The Guardian first picked up on it. However, last Thursday Whittingdale announced a raft of proposed changes to how the BBC is governed.

Within the whitepaper, the government said it welcomes "the BBC’s commitment to develop and test some form of additional subscription services."

"Licence fee payers will not be asked to pay for ‘top-up’ services for anything they currently get," according to the proposal.