Apple may make TV shows available for purchase and download to iTunes customers in the UK "within weeks", a report claims.

Expectation that the company will extend its film and television service to European territories has been high for some time now, with Apple executives consistently promising to make such a move before the end of this year.

Recent moves by broadcasters including Channel 4 and the BBC to make selected television shows available online in the form of catch-up TV downloads clearly shows the regulatory environment now supports such a move.

While moves by UK broadcasters mean Apple has lost the all-important 'first move' advantage it grabbed in the US market when it entered this sector, UK iTunes users may not have long to wait.

Citing "sources", Ars Technica has resurrected the rumours, claiming that Apple is already in position to offer film and TV show downloads, and will launch them "very soon".

The introduction could be within weeks, the report says.

"Things are apparently all set up and ready to go, so it's just a matter of flipping the switch," the report claims, speculating that should Apple introduce such services in the UK, "it can't be long before the rest of the continent catches up."

iTunes US sells films for around $9.99 each, while television show episodes cost $1.99.

It's unclear if Apple will offer BBC content in the UK. Because the BBC is funded by a universal UK license fee it may go against the terms of the broadcaster's charter to sell its content for a fee to a UK audience. However, some level of distribution fee may be acceptable.