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BBC News on iPhone

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Pete Clifton Pete Clifton | 12:36 UK time, Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Our Future Media boss Erik Huggers made it clear today that our BBC News and BBC Sport services will be the first official BBC apps to launch on the iPhone.

If you want to see a demo of the BBC News app, David Madden, exec product manager from our mobile team, can walk you through.

This is an exciting development for us and a natural progression after providing the best of our journalism - news, sport, weather, travel - on mobile devices for the past 10 years.

Our approach has always been simple: web equals mobile; mobile equals web. If we have made great content for our websites - with your licence fee money - then mobile is just another platform to make it available to you.

The rising audience numbers for our mobile content show that our users appreciate the service and expect to find it when they are on the move - or on the touchline, or on the sofa.

The applications unveiled by Erik will provide a slicker way to access our existing content on smartphones, with a real focus on the distinctive, original content we have on offer.

This includes breaking news from our journalists across the UK and the world, embedded video on our local, national and international text stories, the best of the blogs from our leading correspondents, easy access to news podcasts, and a permanent link to watch the BBC News channel live.

There'll be lots more, and you'll be able to personalise the service so that the content you are most interested in rises to the top.

We will be developing the service over the coming months, on the iPhone and then for the BlackBerry and Android devices later in the year, and we plan to have an iPhone application for Sport in time for the World Cup.

As ever, your feedback will be invaluable. And, of course, if you are not part of the "smartphone set", you can still find the content via your mobile browser at bbc.co.uk/mobile.

It will certainly be a relief to have an official BBC presence on iPhone instead of the distinctly patchy unofficial "BBC" applications that some of you may have encountered in the past couple of years.

You'll no doubt continue to enjoy accessing news on the move from a variety of sources on your mobile, and we hope that will include the BBC.

Pete Clifton is head of editorial development, multimedia at BBC News.

Closing the News Multiscreen

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Pete Clifton Pete Clifton | 16:10 UK time, Tuesday, 20 October 2009

As you may have read elsewhere, the BBC and other broadcasters are currently working to provide HD channels on Freeview.

Nothing comes for free though, and inevitably, this means that the BBC's existing Freeview service has had to change to help accommodate HD.

It's been a busy time for Freeview users, with them recently being asked to re-tune their TVs or set-top boxes as part of a country-wide rearrangement of broadcast transmissions. Now at the end of October, the BBC will have less room to broadcast interactive TV on Freeview. More details on this are provided here.

For BBC News, this means that we're no longer going to be able to provide one of our services.

The News Multiscreen, which we've been broadcasting on Freeview for a number of years now, will close on Tuesday 27 October 2009.

Screngrab of Freeview News Multiscreen

Obviously News content will still be available for viewers of Freeview.

The BBC News channel continues to broadcast on channel 80, and a comprehensive News, Sport and Weather text service will continue to be offered via the Red Button.

As well as that, the bulletins that we provided via the News Multiscreen can still be found on BBC Online via the following links - News, Sport and Weather.

Our Entertainment bulletin, which was not available on Freeview, is also online.

This change does not affect those of you with Sky or Virgin Media - if you currently watch the News Multiscreen on one of those services, you'll still able to do so.

Removing a service is always a hard decision, but as television broadcast develops, with the arrival of HD transmissions and also with broadband-to-TV technology beginning to take a foothold in the UK, the BBC is exploring how it takes advantage of these changes to ensure that it continues to offer viewers innovative News services.

TVs and set-top boxes are emerging in the market that are connected to the internet and we are looking at what exciting video services we could offer in the future.

Pete Clifton is head of editorial development, multimedia at BBC News.

Find, play and share

Pete Clifton Pete Clifton | 14:40 UK time, Wednesday, 4 June 2008

The swish new page we have launched for the BBC's China 08 season marks an exciting development in the way we want to showcase the best of all our video, audio and text content on the web.

People cheer during the Olympic torch relay in Hefei, central China on 28 May 2008With this approach in place, you hopefully won't have to be Sherlock Holmes to easily locate all the highlights of the BBC's focus on China over the next couple of months.

This page, at bbc.co.uk/topics/china is a great example of the focus we now have on "find, play and share" - making it as easy as we can for our audiences to locate the best of our multi-media coverage, hopefully enjoy it and then pass it on.

Of course, say China to lots of people right now and they will think Beijing Olympics (and there is a link off to that coverage on the page), but there is so much more to reflect from a country with such a rich culture and an increasingly important place on the world stage with its society transforming and economy booming. All that and lots more besides is reflected on BBC sites like Wild China, the Inside China special from BBC News, the Reith lectures on Radio 4, the school twinning from World Class, the Video Nation Silk Screens, BBC Chinese.com, Radio 3's Focus on China season and much else besides.

It can just be pretty exhausting finding it all, so on the new China page you will find the pick of our coverage on TV and radio and easy routes to watching and listening, the pick of BBC web coverage of China, the latest and most relevant news, up to the minute weather information and key facts about the country drawn from our popular profiles on the BBC News site.

James ReynoldsThe page will also include some other editor's choices from around the BBC, at the moment including James Reynolds' excellent blog from China, a module dedicated to linking out to the China coverage of other news sites, and a separate area highlighting other relevant sites. In the near future, we will also be introducing a blog tracker, giving users an insight into the discussions about China happening elsewhere on the web.

A lot of this aggregating is being done by automated searches across our content and other feeds, and we also have some human oversight to ensure it is working smoothly and to pick up suggestions and feedback from you. As this is a new approach for us, there are bound to be some early bumps along the way and we are really keen to see if we can improve them with your help!

China 08 presents an early opportunity to really focus a page around a season of coverage, but this is one of a number of topics pages we are launching this week to try the same approach across a range of countries, people and subjects. During this beta phase we hope to gradually extend the range of topics on offer so we will ultimately have a fantastic set of pages to give you a much easier route to interesting content without having to don a deerstalker.

• My colleague Matthew McDonnell explains more about the topic pages on the BBC Internet blog.

Wikipedia edit

Pete Clifton Pete Clifton | 15:02 UK time, Thursday, 16 August 2007

There was significant interest in our piece yesterday on the online tool that shows the identity of organisations where employees have changed Wikipedia pages.

The focus of the story was changes the CIA had made to pages, but other organisations - including The Vatican, the US Democratic Party and US company Diebold - didn’t escape our attention.

Words like glass, house and stones spring to mind, because we weren’t exactly sharp about the other obvious question that springs to mind... What about people inside the BBC?

This was an irritating oversight. Some of you have written to complain, others have given the issue a significant airing online (see here, here and here) and beyond.

I still think it was a good piece to write, but we should have asked the question about ourselves - and reflected it in the report - before it was published. That may be the sound of the barn door closing, but we have now put a line at the end of the story about the BBC and the fact that the Wikipedia scanner shows updates from people at IP addresses traceable back to the BBC.

Some of the examples are pretty unedifying, but for every dodgy one there are many, many more uncontroversial edits where people at the BBC have added information or changed a detail in good faith. The scanner also shows the same kind of results for a wide variety of other media organisations.

So what are my conclusions on all this? People from the BBC interacting with social networking sites seems like an entirely proper thing. We are only part of the web, after all, and we should be willing to freely link off to other places and to engage intelligently with some of them.

You are hardly the brightest button if you choose to make unpalatable updates to Wikipedia when you are sitting at a BBC computer, but policing every keystroke of more than 20,000 staff is impossible. One thing is clear – when BBC staff choose to get involved, they should behave well and not in a way that flies in the face of BBC values or risks bringing the BBC into disrepute.

Having said that, I think I’ve broken the rules once too. Some time back I noticed Wikipedia had the wrong information about who was in charge of BBC News Interactive. So I wrote a couple of paragraphs about myself which is by all accounts not good form in the Wiki world. Whoops, I’ll leave you to go in and edit that one.

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