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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 1.

    Quite simply the BBC has agreed to censor NEWS not just a sports programme. This has never happened before and it's a disgrace. The BBC used to be a beacon of freedom and independence. That has now completely gone and my respect for the BBC has gone with it.

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    Comment number 2.

    I utterly understand why Radio 5 commentary etc. will be blocked, but to block a pre-Olympics interview, which just happened to be at an Olympic venue, is madness - that was on WATO. Can't you send the stream back to HQ and broadcast from there for news items, it seems to me that would be entirely in the spirit of the rights agreement.

    I assume this blocking was the reason I was unable to hear the last five minutes of an afternoon play about Zola Budd.

    Also, why not just do silence, rather than the aggravatingly overfast repetition of the due to rights restrictions message.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 4.

    Why must the entire the Today programme, and now PM, be blocked?

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    Comment number 5.

    I presume the news programme 'PM' is "unavailbale" (as your high-speed voice keeps telling me) because of some sort of Olympic censorship.
    By the way, please inform me if I have just broken the law by using the words 'olympic' and 'censorship' together. I don't want the police banging on my door.
    Will you get your 'voice' to tell us when we can listen to the news again and also what parts (as opposed to 'this part') of the programme will be available?

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    Comment number 6.

    I agree completely. The effect of this mind-numbing message is simply to force me to tune away from Radio 4, as there is no indication of how long it will last. I am therefore also effectively prevented from hearing the BBC's independent coverage of other news, as the Olympics will understandably figure prominently in the news of the next couple of weeks. Coverage of an entire sporting event is different from an article about the event in the course of a news program.
    It would be refreshing to see an intelligent approach to NBC's understandable concern that their ability to subject me to paid advertising not be compromised by my listening to the BBC. It should be obvious that their interests would not be harmed by allowing me to listen to PM in its entirety in my office. Now I'm just going to have to find a Hancock's Half Hour to listen to instead. How does that help them?
    Let's at least get an announcement as to when we can tune back in, rather than going insane from the announcement loop (assuming the announcer isn't already going insane from repeating it live).

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    Comment number 7.

    Thank you for the oh-so-early notice.

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    Comment number 8.

    The BBC should stand up to this restriction of free speech, not kowtow and then sheepishly explain later.

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    Comment number 9.

    So why should we fight for free speech and the World Service when the BBC readily and without any warning whatsoever censors politics, economics, arts, war(!), comments, religion, a presidential election, and so much more to satisfy a single issue monopolist commercial lobby group.

    What's next, no sports news during the Glyndebourne?

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    Comment number 10.

    "Due to rights restrictions, the BBC is not permitted to broadcast openly from within the Olympic Park, but we have the following report from neighbouring Stratford Regional Station."

    I don't want to listen to sports news, I just want to listen to news. However if you have dragged all those poor Radio 4 presenters to the Olympic Park, perhaps I don't want to bother anyway.

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    Comment number 11.

    I totally agree, this is censorship of the news, and as such a blunt instrument. I hear you can listen via a virtual network, but why should I? PM and Today are available on satellite if you have one, but again, why should I? It's high-handed, unfair and needs to be taken further. But where? (Government will be useless, BBC Trust will take too long.) I know that radio is not licence-fee charged, but, come on, part of the fee MUST go towards it. I pay the licence in the UK, I cannot listen when abroad. And this announcement is arrogantly late. I have been a loyal R4/Home Service listener for decades. This is no way to treat any listener. I have always defended the BBC through thick and thin. Bad show BBC. Get up off your knees.

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    Comment number 12.

    Could you replace the eerie-sounding loop with some genuine information? Before searching the BBC and then the Radio 4 website for information about the blocked programmes, I had tried on an off all day to listen to various Radio 4 news programmes. The loop message was so opaque as to be completely uninformative until the pattern of 'no news' started to become apparent. It might as well have been martial music. I still have no idea whether it's worth trying to hear any news programme tomorrow.
    Coming on top of losing the World Service on our radios in Europe, this feels like a further betrayal of my faith in the BBC.

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    Comment number 13.

    There was no word of this until suddenly PM disappeared to be replaced by this very annoying fast-forward repeated message. Now even the Six O'Clock News has gone.
    Is this the BBC succumbing to the brand fascism that has come to be a byword for these Games?
    Does the BBC Charter now permit news broadcasts to be censored?

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    Comment number 14.

    Now the 6 o'clock news is also unavailable in its entirety? It is truly scary that an American corporation can totally prevent all news coverage in this way. Importantly, including any coverage of this issue. This is truly a glimpse of what it is like to live in a totalitarian society where the powerful control and dictates all public access to media. The BBC needs to liberate its news team from the gaol of censorship. Is Bush House available?

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    Comment number 15.

    This still does not explain why we can't listen to the 6 o'clock news tonight...do Corey Corfield, Charlotte Green, Charles Carroll, Zeb Soanes etc etc
    really have to traipse over to Stratford to read the news?

    What's wrong with their comfortable chair in BH?

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    Comment number 16.

    I am a BBC license payer but just happen to be on holiday in Europe at the moment. I am very disappointed that I can not listen to PM or even the 6pm news over the web at the moment due to 'rights restrictions'. My very strongest protest to the BBC for allowing such an action!

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    Comment number 17.

    So, is the 6 O'clock news being broadcast from the Olympic Park as well? Or should I just give up on Radio 4 for the next month?

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    Comment number 18.

    As a BBC license payer living temporarily in Europe I send my strongest protest to the BBC that they will not let me listen to PM and the Six O'Clock news (and maybe other forthcoming programmes) over the web!

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    Comment number 19.

    I think it is shocking that the Olympics and their wealthy sponsors even stop us from hearing the 6'o clock news! Just as daft as the Nike trainers and the Pepsi T-shirt! True Olympic spirit???
    A disgruntled Radio 4 fan in Nuremberg

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    Comment number 20.

    We cannot believe that as UK residents who pay all our taxes and licence fee there, we cannot listen to the most important part of BBC radio 4 over the entire Olympics period, just because we happen to be on holiday in France. This seems to be totally against all principals of including everyone in the British Olympic adventure. Quite agree with those who condemn the 'voice' - it is guarantee to annoy, and is completely uninformative. Surely you could arrange to say when BBC Radio 4 will be back on stream. And to prevent any broadcasts from BBC5 channels is idiocy. Any other nations broadcasts, do not give as much emphasis on the UK competitors. Please re-negotiate the deal and put us out of our anger and misery!

 

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