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The BBC is opening up its iPlayer catch-up service to third-party partners for the first time. The broadcaster has teamed up with arts organisations including the British Film Institute (BFI), Shakespeare's Globe and the Royal Opera House to launch an online festival celebrating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.

The festival will last six months, and include TV and radio programmes such as the BFI's Sir Ian McKellen-hosted production 'Shakespeare on Stage, Screen and Elsewhere', and the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of 'Richard II' starring David Tennant.

Last September, BBC director general Tony Hall pledged to open up the BBC in response to government criticism. The government is currently trying to slash the Beeb's budgets and reduce its scale and scope as it faces royal charter renewal.

The festival kicks off on Saturday.

"This weekend we're experimenting live with digital formats like never before," Hall said in a statement. "Alongside a fantastic line-up on radio and television, we're hosting a digital festival, shaped with partners, to bring their creativity to millions here and the world over. And, for the first time, the BBC will be showcasing the great talent we have in our leading cultural institutions on BBC iPlayer.

"It's another step towards an open BBC – something we all believe in."

You can find more information about the festival here.

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