Thousands of hours of historical news footage is being encoded into QuickTime format, and will soon be available on the British Pathe Web site.

According to Apple this will be the first digital news resource of its kind.

The content was originally available only in Windows Media format. Peter Fydler, who initiated the scheme when employed by Pathe (he is now director of marketing at ITN's archive) said: "QuickTime 6 is far superior, but it wasn’t released until Spring 2002. So when we started the coding in 2001, we had to go with Windows Media 8".

When Microsoft opted out of supporting the MPEG-4 standard, Pathe decided to turn to QuickTime.

Fydler explained: "After our site launched in Autumn 2002, the education community became vociferous about making the resource available on the Mac platform, so we sought funding from the Regional Broadband Consortium, which aims to promote the development of high-resolution content in English schools.

"The consortium was keen to fund the project because it would make our resource compatible with iMovie, which so many children use in the classroom."