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The BBC's International Radio Streams During the Olympics

Friday 27 July 2012, 16:41

Mark Friend Mark Friend Controller

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UPDATE (29 July): After discussion, the IOC and the BBC have agreed that there is no need to block our international streams of Radio 4 programmes with a wide news agenda. Radio 5 Live (apart from the news programme Up All Night) and 5 Live Olympics Extra will remain available only in the UK. The Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Radio 2 will also now be available internationally. Radio 5 Live Sports Extra coverage of non Olympic Sports will be available as normal.

Original post (27 July): One of the benefits of the BBC's online radio streams is that listeners all over the world can enjoy just about all our programmes live and on demand.

Unfortunately, there are some types of content where we are restricted from distributing overseas, usually because of sports rights. The impact of this will be very noticeable throughout the Olympic Games because the BBC has the rights to broadcast from Olympic venues only to the UK.

This is what happened on the Today Programme this morning. When parts of BBC radio programmes are broadcast from an Olympic site, the live and on demand stream will be blocked to international audiences for the duration of that segment. International audiences will hear a message informing them of the rights restrictions in place.

Some entire BBC radio stations will only be available in the UK for the duration of the Games. For example, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and BBC Radio 5 live olympics extra all have substantial coverage from the Olympic sites and will be blocked to international audiences.

When whole, or large parts of, programmes are broadcast from an Olympic site, the entire programme will be blocked to international audiences. The frequency of this may vary. For example:

  • Radio 2's Chris Evans' Breakfast Show is broadcasting from the Olympic Park and will be blocked to international audiences for the duration of the Games.
  • Radio 4's Today Programme was broadcast from the Olympic Park on Friday 27 July and therefore blocked to international audiences on that day.

In some cases, when only parts of programmes are broadcast from an Olympic site, it may be possible to block the Olympics segment and make the rest of the programme available internationally. This will apply to many editions of Radio 4's Today Programme.

Mark Friend is Controller Multi-platforms & Interactive BBC Audio and Music.

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    Comment number 21.

    This is not 1984, but 2012; sponsors forbid 'wrong' t-shirts and shoes, and IOK stops news broadcasting from its venues. Holy Moses where are we heading?

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    Comment number 22.

    Want to add my support to the above comments, which are unanimous in their criticisms.

    It makes sense for the BBC to restrict broadcasts of Olympics-related content. But to restrict all content that emanates from the Olympic park is ridiculous, certainly if the corporation insists on moving (no doubt at considerable expense) its main news and current affairs programmes to Stratford.

    Kindly restore Today, the World at One, PM, the Six O'Clock news and all other programmes that aren't specifically concerned with the Olympics to Broadcasting House.

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    Comment number 23.

    What a sad, silly way for the BBC to have its R4 programming & transmissions sabotaged "due to rights restrictions" --- it beggars belief!

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    Comment number 24.

    Okay, we are all agreed, this self-inflicted censorship is dreadful.


    If you are not going to be bothered to find a workaround,(which you should) then at least get Harriet or Charlotte to record a once off message, and follow it with a quiet bit of Vaughan Williams. If you have the technology to do live pause on iplayer TV surely this is not too much to ask?

    It is the unexpectedness, and the open ended time scale - when is the proper news going to return - which makes this so unacceptable on Radio 4.

    Fine, during a live sports broadcast on Radio 5, a once only hearing of the message prompts one to give up. It's very different on PM, Today or WATO.

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    Comment number 25.

    So the BBC does not have the right to broadcast news about an event which we are constantly told is the most important for this country and the whole world and on which we have spent billions. Er, I thought we treasured the BBC World Service...serving every corner of the globe consistently upholding unwavering principles of truth and objectivity, shining light into dark corners, giving hope to the powerless. My view is that it's CAPITALISM GONE MAD. The one institution that is meant to be impartial and historically above question in its fearless independence has sold itself out for a mess of pottage. I would like to know who is responsible for this venal decision which has made the BBC a laughing stock and has brought it into disrepute.

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    Comment number 26.

    This is utterly, utterly ridiculous.

    Why is the BBC's flagship news radio programme being censored simply because a segment is broadcast from a different part of London than normal?

    It is still first and foremost a news programme; how on earth can this be subject to 'rights restrictions'?

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    Comment number 27.

    So the BBC signed up to a deal which effectively censors who they can broadcast the news to( and I mean news, not commercial sport) - how disappointing. Ironically we can get world service, but every time i have turned that on today all they are on about is the Olympics, ad infinitum - no proper news at all.

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    Comment number 28.

    I have little to add to the comments written thus far: I agree with every one. Words fail me. I can find none that will adequately express my amazement and disgust at the crass ineptitude with which the BBC has comported itself today. This is one formerly loyal Radio 4 listener deeply disappointed to see what I considered a jewel in Britain's crown and a global-quality beacon of journalistic integrity submitting to the contemptible dictatorship of the IOC. Shame on you Radio 4.

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    Comment number 29.

    I'm not interested in the Olympics; I am interested in other news but from the above comments gather that I will be blocked from listening for the next two weeks. Thank you very much indeed.

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    Comment number 30.

    Now, listen BBC. You do not go to a lawyer and say "can I do this". You say "Ï am going to do this".

    Please - with news broadcasts - you really MUST take the initiative, otherwise your well deserved reputation is toast.

    Just get it sorted. You are looking at - what - ten days of the BBC looking like imbeciles. That's longer than a week in politics.

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    Comment number 31.

    Could you be good enough to provide a link to whoever your bosses are - maybe the BBC Trust? Because I'd like to take this further - ten, twelve, whatever days effectively offline is an appalling prospect for BBC Radio online.

    I'm sure you are simply following misguided orders, but maybe you should question them. As I (and many other commenters) accept, the ban on live broadcasting of Olympic events (ex UK) is understandable. The ban on news is not.

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    Comment number 32.

    Nation shall speak unto Nation except when censored by the Olympic. Will be using #LikeSyria to make my views know on Twitter.
    You will be pleased to know I watched BBC coverage on satellite. Now off to set up VPN and normal service will be resumed.
    The BBC are looking like idiots and the IOC like a bunch of despotic dictators

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    Comment number 33.

    This is a b......y disgrace and, as a fully paid up licence paying expat, I'm disappointed that the BBC, supposedly the voice of truth and impartiality to the world, has had to succumb to the commercial censorship imposed by the IOC. London itself is resembling a police state over the next 2 weeks and it appears that the BBC is playing along.

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    Comment number 34.

    I'm used to listening to the Today program online in the evenings here in Australia. I love it. Now I'm getting the ghastly message often referred to above, and no indication of when I can resume listening to quality news and current events from London. Only ten per cent of the costs of the 2012 London Olympics has been met by its sponsors; the other 90% has come from taxpayers' money. So why have you caved in to pressure from the multinationals? Oh! of course! because that's what all western governments and their henchmen do. And there was I thinking the BBC was independent.

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    Comment number 35.

    I am genuinely saddaned and disappointed to think of the downfall of this institution BBC radio. They shot their integrity in the foot with action decided to be taken with the Olympics.
    They have decided to disrespect their listeners and go for gold instead... well they've lost the support, admiration - and ears of this once avid fan.

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    Comment number 36.

    And another thing. Below the Radio Four logo on my iPad appear the words "Intelligent speech". This most certainly does NOT apply to the high-speed message loop that tells me "Due to rights restrictions, this part of the programme is unavailable." That's stating the bleeding obvious. It would be intelligent to tell me which part, if any, of the programme WILL be available.

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    Comment number 37.

    Disgusting that the censorship continues into a second day of the Today programme. As a license paying Londoner, I'm funding this sham, how dare I go on holiday. The BBC should have figured this out by now, it is a disgrace to be blocking news and not in the spirit of the games or our great nation.

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    Comment number 38.

    I am really disapointed by how radio 4 is blocked simply because it broadcasts from the olympic village or whatever it is that blocks it- when I found out yesterday that there was a problem, i rang the complaint helpline and the guy on the phone did not have a clue: he told me that the BBC wanted to now charge anyone listening abroad. This is obviously rubbish.
    anyway, i am looking forward to in a couple of week's time when i will start listening again wihtout this idiotic''due to rights restrictions this program is unavailable''

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    Comment number 39.

    I totally agree with PB. The British should not be tied down by so called sporting officials.

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    Comment number 40.

    I read Mr Friend's message on Friday as indicating that the restrictions on Radio 4 would be unavailable only on that day. Now I find on Saturday that the same moronic message is preventing me from listening to the Today programme. And I have ust read in the Guardian online that this disruption is to persist for the entire of the Games period. It seems we have have stupidity and total disregard for the paying listener (yes, I pay the BBC's licence fee and pay all my taxes in the UK) compounded by a misleading, mendacious message from Mr Friend. Does anyone at the BBC have the slightest understanding of how important it is for those of us abroad to be able to listen? Self-evidently not. At what point, given the consistency of the response from frustrated listeners above and the obviousness of the mistake the BBC has made here, will it rectify its error and start providing us with the service we pay for? I can barely begin to express my anger at the mindless stupidity that seems to underlie this entire situation. Stupid, stupid, mindlessly, moronically stupid!

 

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