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The BBC will publicly launch the iPlayer on Christmas day in a bid to woo the TV watching millions on the day in which shows receive the highest ratings of the year.

It is hoped that by formally making the service available on Christmas Day it will achieve maximum publicity and attract a sizeable slice of viewers and broadband users.

A BBC spokesperson said: "From our point of view, it's all about the content available on the platform. The Christmas schedules are the richest time of year for TV programming."

However, the decision to launch at such a potentially busy time has drawn scepticism over the BBC's capacity to cater to demand - especially given the technical troubles experienced by users since the soft launch of the service earlier this year.

The problems are likely to be exacerbated by a shortage of support staff, who will be off on Christmas holidays, and will be unable to address customer problems effectively, it is claimed.

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