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Follow-Up to BBC Red Button Changes on Freeview

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Rahul Chakkara Rahul Chakkara | 17:05 UK time, Friday, 23 October 2009

It's been a few days now since I posted the news that on Tuesday 27th October we'll be closing two of the interactive streams on the BBC Red Button on Freeview to make way for free-to-air HD coming to the platform. Lots of you have commented with a wide range of opinions and I wanted to get back to you on a few of the main topics.

Firstly I can absolutely understand why some of you disagree with these changes. It affects the content you love to watch, and I want to reassure you that we are doing everything we can in conjunction with our colleagues in Sport to schedule events to ensure that we try and accommodate all the major sporting events on Freeview; that we continue to provide schedule information online and this is made available to TV listings magazines to help you know when which sport is on and to remind you that BBC Sport video available via the Red Button is also available on BBC Online/Sport.

During major events we will also look to free up bandwidth available to the BBC across Freeview as we did during the Summer Olympics in 2008.

Regarding why we chose these two streams to switch off, simply, of the streams available to us, these two were the ones deemed to present programming that could be made available elsewhere across the BBC's channels.

HD is becoming the next broadcasting standard as more programmes are being made in HD and more people own HD ready televisions. The BBC along with the DCMS, Ofcom and other public service broadcasters are helping to lead HD development in the UK so that audiences will be able to enjoy the benefits of HD content.

HD is already available on satellite and cable platforms. Freeview is the only platform without the BBC's HD content. It was felt important that it also offered viewers HD channels both from the BBC and from other broadcasters. Initially only those in the areas where digital switchover has happened will be able to access Freeview HD, but it will be nationwide by 2012 and we hope that some areas in the UK will be able to offer it sooner than that. We made the decision not to continue running these streams in areas which are yet to have digital switchover because, while technically it would be possible, editorially we can't run two different services in different parts of the country.

This does mean that for a time between now and 2012 when switchover is completed there will be some unused spectrum covering parts of the UK on the multiplexes we own. We're sub-leasing that in order to make sure we are getting maximum value for money.

I hope this gives a bit more clarity on why we've made the decisions we have and what's happening in the future on BBC Red Button. In all decisions involving trade offs some will be disappointed. I recognise these disappointments and can reassure you that my team is looking at some of the emerging technologies to deliver content.

In the meantime we will continue to deliver a good service on the Red Button. This week on Freeview I hope you'll enjoy Electric Proms 2009, which has Robbie Williams, Dizzee Rascal, Doves and Shirley Bassey as just some of the names appearing in concert behind the red button.


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