Universal Music has forged a "landmark" licensing deal which will allow it to leverage audio and visual content from the BBC's comprehensive broadcast archive.

Universal Music has forged a "landmark" licensing deal which will allow it to leverage audio and visual content from the BBC's comprehensive broadcast archive.

The agreement, announced today (June 15), is the first of its kind between BBC Worldwide -- the commercial arm of the BBC -- and a key music industry partner. In the past, the BBC has licensed its music-related content on a project-by-project basis.

Through the pact, market-leader Universal Music will gain access to exploit content relating to its stable of artists from the public broadcaster's TV and radio vault. BBC Worldwide is in talks with other music companies on similar agreements as part of its strategy to maximise value from music-related footage and broadcasts.

"The BBC archive offers a wealth of material that will be of interest to fans of our strong portfolio of heritage and new music artists," comments Lucian Grainge, chairman of Universal Music. "I am delighted to have led the way for the music industry in working with the BBC to unlock this valuable resource."

The BBC's archive is considered the largest of its kind in the world. Its collection of TV content dates back to the 1930s and includes recordings from Top of the Pops and Old Grey Whistle Test, and footage from entertainment chat-shows Parkinson and Wogan.

Under the terms of the licence, the BBC archive material of Universal artists will be used to produce a broad range of internationally-available products, including CDs, DVDs and digital downloads.

With the May 2 double-album Polydor release "I Feel Free - Ultimate Cream," veteran rock act Cream was the first act featured through the new deal. ABBA, Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, Van Morrison, U2 and the Who are among those Universal artists whose BBC-broadcasts have been earmarked for future projects.