Technical requirements

From 1 October 2014 the BBC began taking delivery of network TV programmes by file produced by both in-house and independent suppliers as part of the Digital Production Partnership (DPP) initiative.  

All programmes delivered by file must be in HD. SD programmes should continue to be delivered via tape. 

The requirement to deliver by file will be discussed as part of the usual commissioning negotiations and will be in line with the following guidelines:

  • For all commissions contracted since 1 October 2014: file delivery is the mandatory delivery mechanism for all TV programmes commissioned as non-topical or week topical programmes. Find out more about topicality status codes.
  • For commissions contracted prior to 1 October 2014: productions will be contacted individually to discuss the possibility of delivering by file rather than tape. If a production is not contacted then delivery should be by tape until advised otherwise.

Please visit the DPP website for full information about file delivery, including a comprehensive and clear Producer’s guide (PDF)

The BBC Academy has produced a number of ‘how to’ videos on file delivery. Visit the BBC Academy website for the latest materials. The Academy also host a one day file delivery training course available for independent production companies and BBC staff. Visit the Academy Courses website for more information and to book a place.


Technical file standards

The latest BBC technical standards can be downloaded from the BBC Delivering Quality website. These documents will be updated regularly so please ensure the latest version has been downloaded.  

All other information and supporting material on how to deliver a file to the BBC will be provided to the production during the testing process. 

The information on this page is mostly related to programme delivery by tape. For full information about file based delivery please see the DPP website.

 

Contact details

  • For all questions relating to file delivery please contact the relevant BBC delivery team
  • For all technical questions relating to file delivery please contact Andy Quested.

Technical requirements for tape

Should a production be required to deliver by tape the following guidelines apply:

  • All new programmes must deliver on HD CAM SR Stereo or Dolby E Surround Sound
  • Archive (repeat) 4:3 programmes should be delivered in SD on digibeta
  • Beta SP is not an acceptable format
  • All programmes transmit off server therefore it is imperative that the clock shows the correct programme versions
  • Special attention should be given to clearly document the aspect ratio either in the file metadata or tape report

The master tape supplied for transmission must:

  • be accompanied by a recording report
  • be editorially and technically compliant before delivery 
  • comply with the BBC technical standards as detailed on this page

The BBC uses the EBU’s recommendations for HD cameras which can be found on the EBU technical website along with the document EBU R118. This details camera criteria and testing. The site also has recommended set-ups for all cameras currently tested.

BBC in-house staff can find additional information and contacts on the Gateway production support website.

Further information on HD technical standards and delivery is available on the BBC's Delivering Quality website along with information on BLITS (a set of tones designed for television 5.1 sound line-up).

For file delivery technical standards and requirements please see the DPP website.

 

When to deliver tapes

Productions should consult their Programme production agreement for exact delivery dates, the below are guidelines:

Type of Programme: When Required:
Non-topical and Open University programmes Required by 5pm on the contracted delivery date at the latest
Week topical programmes Required by 5pm on the contracted delivery date which is five days before transmission
Day before topical programmes Required by 10am on the contracted delivery date on the day before transmission 
On day topical programmes Required by 12 noon on the contracted delivery date on the day of transmission

 

Topicality status

The delivery date will usually be determined by the programme's topicality status which is determined by the editorial nature of its content. A 'topical' status will be awarded only to those programmes which relate directly to live or current events and therefore require some last-minute production. Topicality status classifications are used throughout BBC Television and Radio. The definitions below are additionally used to define the requirements for live and late feeds and Outside Broadcasts (OBs).

Any variation to the contracted delivery date must be formally agreed (by writing or email with your Business Affairs Manager).

Topicality Status

Programme Type

When Required

Non-topical and Open University programmes

All non-topical programmes

Required by 5pm on the contracted delivery date at the latest

Week topical programmes

- a programme with 'week specific' elements within its content

 - people of the week chat shows

Required by 5pm on the contracted delivery date which is five days before transmission

Day before topical

- a programme with a 'news' element within it

- weekly review programmes

- spin-offs linked to live shows

Required by 10am on the contracted delivery date on the day before transmission

On day topical programmes

- a news programme (but not other factual documentary series unless another criterion is met)

- highlights programmes connected to earlier sport or other live event

Required by12noon on the contracted delivery date on the day of transmission 

Quick turnaround/ late edit programmes

Programmes which, because of essential last-minute preparation and/or location of the editing/recording facility, cannot deliver the programme to Playout, e.g.sports or events highlights edited and transmitted from OB facilities

A date and time specified on commissioning documentation

Live programmes

Live feeds/ Whole programmes played from a live source eg OB, Studio, abroad.

A date and time specified on commissioning documentation

Off-site programmes

Programmes which are not delivering to the London Playout area. This could include programmes transmitting from a Nation or Region, an outside facilities house, another BBC building or an edit suite.

 

 

  • Strands will be commissioned with their appropriate least topical status, and production departments will need to agree any necessary changes to this status for individual programmes as above. 
  • Live and quick turnaround programmes are subject to special requirements – see How to deliver OBs, live and late programmes page for more information.

 

Tape delivery and technical review

Tapes delivered to the BBC for broadcast must meet the BBC's Technical standards and a Technical Review will be carried out to assess this.

Independent productions should liaise with the relevant delivery unit to arrange tape delivery and Technical Review. 

The Technical Review should only take place once the programme is ready for transmission, with no further editing required. See the section new versions and editing tapes after a technical review below for more information.

Independent production companies making Open University programmes should liaise with the Open University’s Information and Archive Manager (IAM) to arrange a Technical Review. Find further information about Open University delivery.

Download information about the Technical Review and tape delivery for BBC in-house productions (PDF).

Common reasons for failing the technical review

  • Captions out of caption safe area
  • PSE issues (strobing or patterning that fails the Harding Photo Sensitive Epilepsy check)
  • Aspect ratio errors for example non-converted 4x3 material added to 16x9 programme
  • Grading errors
  • Gamut errors/high luminance/sub blacks
  • Vision or audio disturbance/concealing
  • Blanking errors
  • Missing/incorrect VITC
  • Flash frames
  • Unrendered/unconformed material
  • Audio holes, very wide dynamic range/level issues, distortion, sync-issues
  • Dolby E errors
  • Audio track allocation errors
  • Information mismatch with tape box/paperwork eg differing UIDs, excessive tech info on clock etc
  • Absence of recording report
  • No Vertical Interval Time Code on tape

 

New versions and editing tapes after technical review 

Transmitted master tapes must not be edited for any reason under any circumstances. If re-editing is required before repeat transmission, a new tape must be produced and submitted to the archive under the new version number. 

If a programme has passed its Technical Review but further editing is needed before transmission a new versions must be issued and a new compliance form should be submitted. If a version has failed a Technical Review or a damaged tape is being replaced a new version is not needed. 

Please note: independent production companies should contact their Delivery Co-ordinator at the Indie Delivery Unit or CBBC/CBeebies Schedule Manager who will issue a new version number

In-house productions must not make new versions without the knowledge of Scheduling teams. 

New versions created without appropriate authorisation will not be transmitted. 

All programmes that require reversioning should adhere to the following process:

  • Produce a clone of the original transmission tape (in-house productions should order the original master tape from BBC Archives and return after cloning). 
  • Produce the reversioned copy and send to BBC Archives for archiving as a new version. 
  • Advise BBC Archives of any restrictions required for previous versions as appropriate. 

All recordings, both broadcast and non-broadcast, are the property of the BBC (unless contractual arrangements indicate otherwise).

You must not conduct any editing/reversioning on any BBC Archives transmission master material as this is in direct contradiction of the BBC policies and obligations.  

 

Transmission form

Accurate information on the Transmission form (alternatively called the TX form) is essential to ensure the correct programme is transmitted from the Playout area (or Scot TX for BBC Scotland). These areas handle thousands of tapes every week.

Transmission forms are not required for live programmes.

In-house programme-makers should complete the form via the P4A system. 

Independent producers should complete and email the form via the Microsoft word template to the appropriate BBC delivery contact or via the P4A system as instructed.

Please note that Children's P4A paperwork should be emailed to the Children's Delivery Unit. 

Find contacts for the Indie Delivery Unit and the Children's Delivery Unit on the contacts page.

Note that special attention should be given to clearly document the aspect ratio and sound.

Download the Transmission form (Word).

 

Clone delivery policy

BBC Archive are required to keep all transmitted programmes for a minimum of five years for research and re-use value and for critical business reasons such as legal traceability and ensuring the correct version of a programme is transmitted. 

All independent productions (including those producing content for CBBC and CBeebies) must submit one master copy to BBC Archive and must retain an exact clone of the delivered master for their own records, this clone may need to be required/referred to in the event of an issue prior to transmission.

All BBC in-house productions must submit two master tapes to the archive. The copies should be for both peak and off peak transmissions and all transmission tape clones should be sent direct to BBC Archive (not Red Bee Media).

BBC Nations and Regions programming may be logged and stored locally but recorded in the central database. 

In additions, a clone is not required for the following output:

  • programme acquisitions output
  • recorded Sports programmes (eg highlights from earlier, live action) 

If a master tape is re-edited before transmission both tapes should be re-mastered to contain the new edit.

The 'person responsible', as nominated in the contact details section of the transmission form, must be aware of the exact location of the clone copy pre-transmission in case the master tape goes missing during delivery.

 

Programme duration

The commissioning documentation will specify a slot duration for the programme. However, the physical programme that is delivered must conform to the actual duration requirements shown below.

Slot duration: the length of the slot in which the programme transmits eg for Watchdog this will normally be 30 minutes (7.30 - 8pm).

Actual duration: the running time at which the programme should be delivered. The actual duration is less than the slot duration to allow for promotions and previews eg for Watchdog this would be one minute less than the slot duration (29 minutes).

 

Channel                                 Slot Duration Actual Duration

BBC One Peak time
BBC One Scotland
BBC One N. Ireland
BBC One Wales

 60 minutes  58 minutes
All other durations

 One minute less than slot duration

 BBC One Daytime
 
 
 
 
 15 minutes  13 mins 45 secs
 30 minutes  28 mins 45 secs
 45 minutes  43 mins 45 secs
 60 minutes  58 minutes
 Other slots  To be advised
BBC Two/BBC Four
BBC Two Scotland
BBC Two N. Ireland
BBC Two Wales
 All durations  One minute less than slot duration

 BBC Three

 


 
 
 
 
 15 minutes  14 minutes
 30 minutes  28 mins 30 secs
 45 minutes  43 minutes
 60 minutes  57 minutes
 Other slots  To be advised
 CBBC and CBeebies
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 5 minutes  3 - 5 minutes (to be agreed with Head of Scheduling)
 10 minutes  10 minutes
 15 minutes  14 minutes
 20 minutes  19 minutes
 25 minutes  24 minutes
 30 minutes  28 minutes
 45 minutes  44 minutes
 60 minutes  58 minutes

 Notes:

  • The actual durations quoted include opening and closing titles. 
  • Occasionally the actual duration of the programme may need to vary from the guidelines above. In this case the Commissioning Executive, or for Children’s content the Head of Scheduling, will advise the production of the actual duration to which it should be delivered. 
  • Any variation to the agreed duration must be formally agreed with the BBC Commissioning Editor or for Children’s content the Head of Scheduling.
  • Children’s programmes have a 15 second allowance either side of these durations.

It is essential that programmes be delivered to the correct duration to ensure that schedules work to time. Programmes with incorrect durations will be returned to production for re-editing and will require new programmes to be submitted for Technical Review at the productions expense.

 

Programme UIDs

Every BBC programme episode version has its own UID number which follows the episode throughout its life and is used for all filing, documentation, music reporting, archive and retrieval. This replaces the Prog ID/Clock number. 

The UID is made up of two parts:

  • The core number: identifies the programme down to episode level: DRA A479U 
  • The version number (suffix): identifies the version of the episode:  /01, /02 (start at /01 and run to /49) 

Together they make the UID: DRA A479U/01

UID numbers are available from: 

Note: Red Bee Media and BBC Archives cannot supply these numbers.

Productions must not increment version numbers. If a new version of the programme needs to be delivered, contact the UID issuer for a new version number. Read further information about the BBC clone delivery policy and editing programmes after a technical review.

 

For programme acquisitions only:

  • The first transfer of an acquired programme should be numbered /01 but the source will be entered as /99 
  • Any subsequent transfer will be numbered /02 etc


Reversioning old format numbers:

Programmes with old format number will keep that number. If a programme with an old format number is now reversioned then the version element will now increment to a /01 ie a reversion of a /71 version will be a /01.

The new rule is as follows:

If there is no version code below /50 for the episode then indie delivery team will allocate the new version with a /01 suffix.

Example: three versions of an episode exist with the following numbers DRIA413B/71, DRIA413B/72, DRIA413B/73. If this programme is reversioned again it will be given the number DRIA413B/01.

If there is a version code below /50 for the episode then the new version will get the next highest version number.

Example: there are three versions of an episode as follows: DRIA416J/71, DRIA416J/01 and DRIA416J/02. If this programme is reversioned again it will be given the number DRIA416J/03.

 

OU tape delivery 

Please see the Open University delivery page for information about delivery and technical requirements.

 

Red button requirements

Please see the Red Button page for more information about delivery and technical requirements.