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iPlayer Man jumps to new challenge; heads Kangaroo

The man who headed BBC's iPlayer project and oversaw its initial success has stepped down as Aunty's director of future media and technology to take on a similar, albeit bigger, challenge.

Ashley Highfield will become the CEO of a video on demand service backed by UK main terrestrial broadcasters (BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel4) called Kangaroo.

The platform was announced back in November 2007 and will expand UK presence on the web as Kangaroo intends to become an international ad-backed equivalent of Freeview.

Kangaroo will apparently feature display ads, pre-roll ads and centre break ads as well as paid-for TV on demand.

We covered the launch of Kangaroo when it was first announced (Kangaroo to change face of UK Television)

Kangaroo will provide more than 10,000 hours of original content and will complement, rather than compete with, BBC's own iPlayer platform as well as the other partners' current or future VOD services (CHannel4 4OD for example).

Highfield will face a number of challenges though especially as UK ISPs have voiced their concerns over the strain that free Video on Demand services are putting on their networks.

The new CEO will also have to convince programme makers that they will not lose revenues when their content is distributed in regions.

Highfield replacement will be in charge of one of the highest profile technology jobs in Europe with a budget of £75 million a year; he or she will also be in charge of BBC research and development teams as well as BBC online properties, the third most popular in UK.

Learn more about Kangaroo by clicking here.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.