In a move likely to draw criticism from license payers who feel the BBC is already too friendly with Microsoft, the two firms are in talks to make BBC shows available through Microsoft's Xbox Live service.

This news emerges as controversy continues over the BBC's iPlayer, its online catch-up TV service that's based on Microsoft technology and doesn't yet support other platforms.

The BBC is required to make its online catch-up TV services available through platforms other than those of Microsoft, but hasn't yet committed to a time frame for meeting these demands.

The BBC's introduction of iPlayer was contingent on the company making its content available on a platform-agnostic basis.

A report on e-Consultancy claims talks between the two firms are taking place, as Microsoft moves to offer a video on demand service to Xbox Live users in Europe.

Making the BBC's shows available through the Xbox will pit Microsoft against many players in the European market, particularly Virgin Media, which already offers BBC shows on demand through its cable TV service.

Industry observers have noted a worrying trend in which UK broadcasters are favouring Microsoft-backed services, as they appear spooked at Apple's success in digital distribution.

The US DOJ recently pointed to Apple's success in digital media distribution as evidence that competition continues in the US technology market, claiming this proves the effectiveness of the somewhat toothless remedies applied by the courts for Microsoft's monopolistic trade practices.