BBC Radio has made nearly all its programmes accessible online and introduced a podcasting trial.

Eighty more regular shows will be available on the broadcaster's site through an improved Radio Player design. The upgrade allows users to pause programmes and features integrated links to news, sports, weather and related shows.

'In Our Time', the Radio 4 show exploring the history of ideas, is also being podcast as a trial - which means it can be downloaded as an MP3 file and listened to on audio players. The BBC claims to be the first UK broadcaster to use this technology, and may introduce more MP3s in the future.

"The new player makes virtually every BBC radio programme available - some 500 extra hours per week," said a BBC spokesperson.

"'In Our Time' is already being podcast as a trial to assess if and how to expand it. It was chosen as a strong public service show with no tricky rights issues and a regular slot."

Programmes will be accessible for seven days after broadcast. All local and national stations, including Radio Scotland, Radio Cymru and Radio Ulster, will be available through a live stream.

The recent version of cult classic the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy recorded one million listeners, although long-running shows such as the Archers attract more listeners cumulatively.

The Radio Player uses the Real Player application, compatible with both PC and Mac computers. Some BBC digital stations, such as Radio 6, are also available on the Windows Media Player format.

BBC Radio's network of websites generates more than 160 million page impressions per month and attracted a record 6.15 million users during November 2004. The Radio Player is also accessible to overseas listeners.

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