Technical requirements

The majority of television network programmes are now delivered as files but a small number continue to be delivered on tape such as some topical and some standard definition programmes. This delivery requirement will be discussed as part of the usual commissioning process. 

All programmes delivered to the BBC must be fully editorially and technically checked and ready for transmission prior to delivery. It is the responsibility of the supplier to ensure programmes meet the technical and editorial requirements of the commission and the company carrying out the tape quality control (QC) process has adequate resources to do so.

 

Contact details

  • Indies: for all questions relating to tape and file delivery please contact the relevant BBC delivery team.
  • Inhouse: contact the relevant single point of contact (SPOC) for file and tape delivery.

For all technical questions relating to file or tape quality control (QC) delivery please contact Andy Quested.

 

File: delivery requirements

The BBC requires all network television programmes to be delivered as AS-11 DPP files unless there is a specific agreement for a programmes to be delivered on tape.

This delivery requirement will be discussed as part of the usual commissioning process.

All programmes delivered to the BBC must be fully editorially and technically checked and ready for transmission prior to delivery.

It is the responsibility of the supplier to ensure programmes meet the editorial and technical requirements of the commission. (See sections one - four of the BBC specific technical delivery standards document (PDF.)

 

The BBC Academy has produced a number of how to videos on file delivery for additional support.

 

File: re-edits and re-versions

If a file delivered programme requires re-editing after it has been accepted by the BBC it will always be a new version and require a new version number.

To obtain a new version number:

 

Tape: technical requirements

Please note: the majority of television network programmes are now delivered as files but a small number continue to be delivered on tape such as some topical and some standard definition programmes. This delivery requirement will be discussed as part of the usual commissioning process. 

All programmes delivered to the BBC must be fully editorially and technically checked and ready for transmission prior to delivery. It is the responsibility of the supplier to ensure programmes meet the technical and editorial requirements of the commission and the company carrying out the tape quality control (QC) process has adequate resources to do so.

The master tape supplied for transmission must:

  • be accompanied by the BBC Tape QC (quality control) report.
  • be accompanied by a PSE test pass report from an approved PSE device
  • comply with the sections one - three and section five of the technical delivery standards document.

Download the latest BBC specific technical delivery standards document (PDF)

In addition:

  • HD programmes must deliver on new HDCamSR tape. HDCam tape is not acceptable.
  • SD programmes must deliver on new Digibeta tape. Beta SP tape is not acceptable.
  • Tape, tape box labels and enclosed paperwork contain identical information.

 

Tape: quality control (QC) requirements

The tape quality control (QC) process should only take place once the programme is ready for transmission, with no further editing required. The programme’s Producer must ensure that the company carrying out the tape QC process has adequate resources to do so.

Download the requirements for the Tape QC process (PDF).

Download a BBC Tape QC report (Word).

  • Indies must confirm their Tape QC process with the BBC, preferably before post-production starts but no later than one week in advance of the expected Tape QC date. Indie productions via the relevant Delivery Coordinator in the Indie delivery unit or the CBBC/CBeebies contact.
  • Inhouse productions via their file delivery single point of contact (SPOC).

 

Tape: re-edits and re-versions

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 requires re-editing after the tape has been delivered but before transmission, it may be possible to return the original. This assumes that the BBC has not carried out any pre-transmission processing.
  • If a programme requires re-editing after transmission but before a scheduled repeat, the master tape cannot be returned under any circumstances. 

Where the original delivered tape cannot be returned:

  • Indie productions must use their own clone of the original master if needed as a source for the re-edit.  Indies are advised to keep a copy of the original programme as well as the re-edited version.
  • Inhouse productions can recall the clone supplied on delivery. The BBC clone can only be used as a source for re-edits and must be returned without change

To obtain a new version number:

New versions created without appropriate authorisation will not be transmitted. 

All programmes that require re-versioning should adhere to the following process:

  • Produce the re-versioned 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).

 

BBC Archives transmission masters must not be re-edited as this is in direct contradiction of the BBC policies and obligations. 

 

Tape: when to deliver

The BBC will not consider a programme delivered until confirmation of receipt of the tape and correctly completed paperwork has been issued.

In all cases the BBC Tape QC report, the PSE report and the tape label information must match and this will be checked before the tape can be considered as delivered. Tapes will not be accepted and will be returned if any of the required information is missing, unclear or contradictory (eg tape labels mismatch).

If a tape has to be delivered so close to transmission that the standard route is not available, it must be delivered to Ericsson directly. See the Live, late and OB delivery page for more information.

In these cases:

  • The supplier is responsible for ensuring the Tape QC report and PSE report are in the tape box.  A programme will not be transmitted without a PSE report. In exceptional circumstances the BBC Commissioner or Controller must contact the Ericsson duty editor to authorise an on-air warning. The programme supplier cannot authorise a PSE warning. This applies to both Indie and Inhouse productions.
  • The Ericsson Duty Editor must be kept informed of the progress of the programme via email on RBM_GB_bbctvplayouteditors@ericsson.com. The Duty Editor should be told when the tape leaves the post facility via the direct phone line +44 208 495 5001.

 

Programme copy policy

The BBC Archive is required to keep all transmitted programmes for a minimum of five years for research, 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 copy of the delivered master for their own records, this copy may need to be required/referred to in the event of an issue prior to transmission. 

Note: Where an independent production has been delivered on tape, it is acceptable to store the copy as an AS-11 file or in any File Mastering Format provided a new tape copy or an AS-11 UK DPP HD V1.1 file can be made and delivered to the BBC if required.

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 Information and Archives (not Ericsson).

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

In addition, 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 or file copy pre-transmission in case the master tape goes missing during delivery.

 

Transmission form

This information applies to file and tape delivery.

Accurate information on the Transmission form (sometimes referred to as the TX or First transmission 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.

Children's P4A paperwork should be emailed to the Children's Indie Delivery Assistants. 

Find contacts for the Indie Delivery Unit and the Children's indie delivery assistants.

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

Download the Transmission form from the delivery timeline.

 

Topicality status

This information applies to file and tape delivery.

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.

  

Programme duration

This information applies to file and tape delivery.

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

This information applies to file and tape delivery.

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.