The popularity of the BBC's iPlayer service has led to a row between the corporation and internet service providers (ISPs).

The online programme allows viewers to watch BBC shows on the web for a full seven days after broadcast and was used by more than one million people in its first month after launching.

But according to ISPs, the willingness of audiences to download or stream episodes of Doctor Who, The Apprentice and other well-loved BBC programmes has placed a great strain on their network costs.

While the BBC's head of future media and technology at the corporation Ashley Highfield said ISPs are responsible for upgrading their network, Simon Gunter of Tiscali has called on the BBC to make a contribution to the cost of network upgrades necessitated by the iPlayer.

"The question is about whether we invest in extra capacity or go to the consumer and ask them to pay a BBC tax," he told the Today programme.

Mr Highfield said Mr Gunter's "inflammatory" remarks were unnecessary and detracted from the wider issue of the iPlayer sparking increased success for the broadband industry.

He also issued a 19-point plan of action for ISPs in his blog last week and threatened that content providers such as the BBC could decide to favour certain ISPs.

Mr Gunter responded by saying it was a "bit rich that a publicly-funded organisation is telling a commercial body how to run its business".

"Inflammatory comments about blacklisting ISPs do not help. There seems to be a lack of understanding about how networks are built. Either we are not explaining it properly or it is falling on deaf ears," he added.

09/04/2008 11:37:15