Prisoners work on BBC's programme archives

Broadcaster aims to digitise one million hours of programmes in its archives.

The BBC has employed prisoners at a privately run jail to work on its historic programme archives, reports the Telegraph.
Senior staff members of the archives department visited the jail to supervise the work, which would aim at digitising about 1 million hours of programmes in its archives.

Based on details obtained through a Freedom of Information request, the paper reported that the BBC has been in touch with Serco, which runs four prisons in England, over Artemis (Achieving Rehabilitation Through Establishing a Media Ingest Service), which is a new project for prisoners to transfer archive documents to computers.

The BBC, which was approached by Serco in 2008, did not discuss the project fearing controversies. The corporation's broadcasting union, Bectu, was also kept in dark, says the report.

Although the broadcaster denied implementing such a plan or making payments to Serco, it admitted to having provided material for a feasibility study of the Artemis project.

Currently about 66 staff are employed at the BBC's Information and Archives department, where some of the vast historic data risks being lost unless transferred to long-lasting digital formats.