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BBC Red Button in the Freeview EPG

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Andrew Bowden Andrew Bowden | 11:05 UK time, Monday, 16 March 2009

In our What's On post on Wednesday, we mentioned that one of the comments heard regularly is that people don't always know about some of the content we have on the red button.

As well as our What's On posts, there's schedules for our Sport and Music services, available on the BBC website.

And if you've got Freeview, there's now another another way as you'll now find BBC Red Button entries in the electronic programme guide on channels 301 and 302.

Channels 301 and 302 are the two channels we use to broadcast our video based services, like Sport Multiscreen, CBBC extra and music concerts, and technically they act and behave as any normal TV channel would - and that means we can put programme information for them in the EPG.

This data hasn't traditionally been held in the BBC's normal schedule database, hence it hasn't been available before.

Getting the data isn't as simple as it would be for a normal TV channel. Our schedulers often schedule long blocks of content that is then repeatedly looped over a number of hours - for example, the Sport News Loop in our Sport section (page 300) is usually scheduled in six hour blocks, whilst the video is a couple of minutes long. As the loop can also vary in length, the schedulers don't normally know in advance when each instance will begin and end, which means breaking down the six hour block is not easy.

On the other hand some items like Five Live's 606 - which is broadcast under the red button every Wednesday night from 10pm - are on for just an hour and a half and are therefore much easier to work with!

At the moment, only Sport content is featured, although the aim is to extend the listings for non-Sport services in time once we have the relevant data plugged into our scheduling systems.

We're also currently only able to offer the information on Freeview, although we are looking at how we can provide similar data on other platforms.

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