Apple may be preparing to introduce film rentals through iTunes, a CNNMoney report claims.

Apple is in talks with major Hollywood studios with a view to introducing video rentals through the store, and hopes to introduce the service in the autumn.

The report says films will be made available for a 30-day rental period and will cost $2.99. Viewers will be able to watch their films through an Apple TV, iPhone or an iPod.

Rights management software would prevent rented films being copied. The move is thought to be designed to increase the number of titles Apple makes available through iTunes, as rented films are seen as less likely to cannibalise DVD sales, which studios are very anxious to protect.

A series of reports across the last 24 hours claim that Apple will soon update Apple TV to enable users to purchase media directly from the iTunes Store using the device. Presumably, the Apple TV will gain access to the iTunes WiFi Music Store, the same access as is available to iPhones and the iPod touch.

Catch-up TV extended

In related news, UK broadcaster Channel 4's catch-up TV service has recently extended the period for which it makes previously screened shows available to view through its Windows-only 4OD service. Shows will now be available for 30 days after screening.

In June broadcast rivals the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV were said to be discussing a collaborative joint venture which would pool programming for online download into a single service.

While these UK services are available only for Windows systems at present, the BBC at least has plans to introduce Mac support for catch-up TV to computers.

In order to launch its existing iPlayer service, the BBC has had to agree to certain conditions applied by the broadcaster's governing body, the BBC Trust. As revealed in May, the trust insisted the BBC act to ensure iPlayer supports Mac and Linux systems and is monitoring the BBC's work toward meeting this demand on a six-monthly basis. Monitoring results will be published by the trust.

"The trust has noted the strong public demand for platform neutrality and is concerned to ensure that the BBC meets this demand as soon as possible," said BBC trustee Diane Coyle at the time.

The Office of the Prime Minister recently regurgitated the trust's official position on this, stressing that the trust wanted support for other operating systems to be introduced "as soon as possible".

Speaking in August, the BBC's director of future media and technology, Ashley Highfield, said: "We are committed to making it as easy as possible to use BBC iPlayer. Developing a version for Apple Macs and Microsoft Vista is absolutely on our critical path."