The BBC's International Radio Streams During the Olympics

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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.

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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 7. Posted by Alan Clarke

    on 6 Aug 2012 14:44

    Why are people posting about radio 4? where I live ,coverage on the internet includes outage on Radio's, Ulster, Wales,Scotland and Local radio as well. Ex-Pats cannot listen to a wide number of channels, Well done BBC, another fine mess you have got us into!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Comment number 6. Posted by Taggingalong

    on 1 Aug 2012 16:35

    It shouldn't have taken all this to see reason, but it has been reversed so, well done all of us. For those who get blocked by ex UK ISPs, search for Virtual Private Networks. Thanks for sense seen. Keep vigilant for future censorship though. Hurrah!

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  • Comment number 5. Posted by John Milton

    on 31 Jul 2012 09:15

    I tuned in at 11pm BST last night and Radio 4was blocked again. What was that all about as all Olympic events had long finished?

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  • Comment number 4. Posted by Kerry D

    on 30 Jul 2012 09:26

    The biggest issue is all the people like myself who live and work in the uk but whose company use and IP which is based outside of the UK - how are we supposed to be able to access BBC coverage??

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  • Comment number 3. Posted by BBCAMi

    on 29 Jul 2012 13:29

    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.

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  • Comment number 2. Posted by istvanberkeley

    on 28 Jul 2012 17:30

    I am afraid that this is really annoying. It is also very unfair on British people who are overseas for the Olympics. If it is for just short segments, then fair enough, but to lose all of Today, or PM is very frustrating. Could you not divert the stream to another source (for instance, The World Service) an include an explanatory announcement? As things currently stand, I have to get my news from elsewhere, as I can never tell when a show will simply disappear. It is a very poor show.

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  • Comment number 1. Posted by diverte

    on 27 Jul 2012 17:19

    will I be able to hear news other than the olympics in france

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