BBC material will be legally available on YouTube as a result of a partnership between the public service broadcaster and the video sharing web site owned by Google. The non-exclusive partnership will provide BBC branded channels on YouTube under agreements with the corporation and its commercial arm, BBC Worldwide.

Mark Thompson, the director general of the BBC, described it as a ground-breaking partnership and “fantastic news for our audiences”. He said it “provides both a creative outlet for a range of short-form content from BBC programme makers and the opportunity to learn about new forms of audience behaviour”. He added: “It’s essential that the BBC embraces new ways of reaching wider audiences with non-exclusive partnerships such as these.”

The clips will include promotions for new programmes as well as specially commissioned material such as video diaries. The aim is to offer audiences a taste of BBC programming with clips which could link to the proposed BBC iPlayer, including a commercial version for international users.

BBC News clips, available only to users outside the United Kingdom, as well as those on the BBC Worldwide channel, will be associated with advertising, subject to certain guidelines. The BBC share of revenue will be returned to programme development and production.

Eric Schmidt, the chairman and chief executive of Google, said: “We’re delighted to be joining forces with the BBC to bring the best TV programming available to the YouTube community. We will continue to invest in our platforms and technologies to help our partners make the most of the enormous opportunities presented by the billion people now online.”

“The BBC is a premier source for quality programming and we’re excited that they are leading the way in enabling two-way dialogue and real engagement with an entirely new audience,” said Chad Hurley, the co-founder and chief executive of YouTube. “We hope to open up an entirely new audience for their content, while deepening their relationship with their existing viewers.”

The BBC pages on YouTube share its basic look and feel and carry BBC branding. Individual clips also have their own pages, enabling links to be forwarded to others, but the ability to embed some clips in other web sites has been limited.

The BBC is following other broadcasters, including several networks in the United States, in forming a partnership with YouTube. Nevertheless, the majority of clips on the site are uploaded by users, including copyright material. Several major media companies have demanded that their copyright material is removed.

Ashley Highfield, the director of Future Media and Technology at the BBC, suggested that the corporation would be taking a more relaxed attitude. “We don’t want to be overzealous, a lot of the material on YouTube is good promotional content for us,” he told the BBC News web site.

However, the BBC will reserve the right to replace poor quality clips, or remove material that had been edited or modified in a way that would damage the BBC brand or that infringe third-party copyright.