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Archives for September 2012

Ten things from the week

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Eloise McNaulty | 14:44 UK time, Thursday, 6 September 2012

1. BBC Proms

In the last week of the Proms there have been some particularly noteworthy concerts and celebrations. Kirsty Young talked to BBC news about the Desert Island Discs Prom, celebrating 70 years of the programme. If you missed the opportunity to take part in the Radio 4 live blog, which ran throughout the concert, you can still read the comments and watch excerpts including a performance of the Desert Island Discs theme and Kirsty Young on stage with Bryn Terfyl. (Please note these excerpts will expire on the 10 September).

In another exciting performance, composer John Adams, conducted his own work "Nixon in China" prompting lots of comment on Twitter including this from Radio 3 presenter, Petroc Trewlany. Visit the BBC Proms on Facebook to see a selection of images from the performance.

Don't miss the amazing line-up for the last night of the Proms on the 8th September plus Proms in the Park London. Around the country, join BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and conductor Stephen Bell at City Halls, Scotland, the Ulster Orchestra in Belfast and the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales.

Also, see a beautiful slideshow of paintings related to the BBC proms. Your Paintings aims to show the entire UK national collection of oil paintings and is a joint initiative between the BBC, the Public Catalogue Foundation (a registered charity) and participating collections and museums from across the UK. Thanks to Your Paintings for the heads-up on twitter.

2. BBC iPlayer

This week the BBC announced mobile downloads on BBC iPlayer, enabling you to download your favourite BBC TV programmes directly to your smartphone or tablet for free, and to enjoy them for up to 30 days. David Madden, Exec Producer for TV & iPlayer Mobile, blogged about the benefits of the downloads and answered further questions.

3. "And Now an Urgent SOS"

3. Do you remember the SOS messages that the BBC used to read out? Eddie Mair wrote in the Radio Times saying that "They used the power of radio and its ability to reach millions instantly to reach out to one or two individuals to tell them something that mattered only to them". BBC Radio 4 blogged about tracking down some of the original people behind the messages, inviting listeners to get in touch for their programme "And Now an Urgent SOS".

Hear Carole Bullock, telling Eddie Mair about the day an SOS message changed her family...for unexpected reasons.

4. BBC Connected

This project aims to connect those who wish to work with the BBC in creating innovative material for online audiences. Adrian Woolard provided detailed briefs around upcoming dates, including CBBC on September 20th in Salford and User Experience and Design on October 4th in London. Read the blog from Adrian on the plans through till next spring next year and put the dates in your diary now.

Connected Studio in Salford

CBeebies Connected Studio in Q5, Quay House, MediaCityUK in Salford

5. A Newsround Special

At this time of year, when children are going back to school, what is it like for the child with additional needs? Up And Away: A Newsround Special investigates on the 7th September at 5pm on CBBC.

BBC Breakfast spoke to Rosie King, who presents 'Up and away' and Daniel Allen about how they became involved in the show.

6. The BBC Story

On the 3rd September, 1939, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announced on the Home Service that Britain was at war with Germany. The BBC reinvented itself during the WW2, expanding its services in the UK and abroad..

Watch experts including BBC historians talking about the impact of the War and how it transformed the BBC.

Explore audio, documents and image galleries in the BBC Archive WW2 collection on subjects ranging from the Berlin Wall to Dad's Army at 40. Visit BBC History online to find out more about this topic an many others.

The Rt. Hon. Neville Chamberlain in 1935 (BBC Archive image)

The Rt. Hon. Neville Chamerlain in 1935, (BBC Archive image)

7. Gloomsbury: literary laughs on Radio 4

Coming up soon, a comedy about the Bloomsbury Group with a stellar cast including Miriam Margolyes, Alison Steadman, Nigel Planer, Morwenna Banks, Jonathan Coy and John Sessions. The six-part series written by Sue Limb is an affectionate send up of the infamous literary group whose arty and adulterous adventures dominated the cultural scene in the early 20th century. Read the full release and cast interviews on the Media Centre website.

8. The Thick of IT

Series 4 of the dark political comedy returns on 8 September at 10.10pm on BBC Two. If you're new to the programme check out the BBC Comedy blog which tells you how the show started and background to the characters.

9. Are you an aspiring writer?

Watch interviews and learn how to craft the perfect script with writers, including Jimmy McGovern, from the BBC Writers Room. Check out a collection of Radio and TV scripts including those from BBC Comedy and Sherlock and find out more about up-coming opportunities and events.

Emeli Sandé

Emeli Sandé

10. Radio 2 live in Hyde Park

This one day festival on Sunday 9th September features artists such as Tom Jones, Jessie J and Status Quo. If you've missed out on tickets you can watch and listen on BBC Radio 2, online and via the Red Button.

Eloise McNaulty is the producer of the About the BBC Blog.

Follow @AboutTheBBC for all the latest updates.

A change to the BBC HD channels on satellite on 27 September

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Alix Pryde Alix Pryde | 15:35 UK time, Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Alix Pryde, Director, BBC Distribution blogs on changes to the BBC HD channels

Satellite Astra 1N during testing

This fantastic picture (courtesy of SES) shows satellite Astra 1N during testing. As you may recall, we moved many of our services on satellite over to Astra 1N earlier this year . I thought I'd share it with you as I have some news to tell you about a forthcoming change to the transponder on Astra 1N that carries BBC One HD and BBC HD.

During the summer last year we made a significant change to our HD transponder, upgrading the transmission mode of the BBC's signal from "DVB-S" to "DVB-S2".

This change meant that we were able to make more efficient use of the valuable satellite capacity available on our HD transponder. It gave us the ability to broadcast at 1920 resolution and conduct 3D trials on satellite for Wimbledon, Strictly Come Dancing, Street Dance, the London 2012 Olympic Games and, most recently, Planet Dinosaur.

Over the last year, we have worked closely with our colleagues at Sky, Freesat and SES to investigate how we can continue to make the most efficient use of our satellite capacity in light of improving technology. As a result, we are now able to make a further modification to the DVB-S2 operating parameters which enables us to access additional capacity. This will support the forthcoming launch of BBC One HD for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

We will be making this change during the early hours of 27 September 2012 and will update our reception advice page which details all our satellite tuning details at that time.

The change will mean different things to different people:

  • If you watch TV using Freeview or Virgin Media, or can't currently view HD channels you will not be affected.
  • If you have Sky, you should not notice the change and shouldn't have to do anything on or after 27 September. If you do have an issue receiving the BBC HD channels from this date you can try unplugging your Sky set top box, waiting 30s and plugging it back in again. If that doesn't resolve your problem it's best to contact Sky on 08442 411 653.
  • If you have Freesat you may need to put your HD box or TV into standby for 30 seconds and then switch it back on again to continue to receive the two BBC HD channels; if the channels are still unavailable then carry out a 'Freesat channel retune'. During last year's changes we found that a small number of devices didn't store the information after a Freesat retune so if that happens try a 'first time installation' or 'full factory reset'. Full instructions can be found in the manual for your digital TV or box. Further help with retuning can be found at www.freesat.co.uk or by calling their customer support team on 08450 990 990.
  • If you have any other kind of satellite receiver that can currently receive the BBC HD channels then you should use the new parameters below to tune manually into the services. The current and new parameters for Astra 1N tp.50 are:

Parameter Current New
Frequency 10,847 MHz (vertical polarity) unchanged
Modulation DVB-S2, QPSK DVB-S2, 8PSK
Symbol Rate 23.0 MSymb/s unchanged
FEC 8/9 2/3

We have also contacted satellite and aerial installer trade associations - the CAI and the RDI - providing them with information with which to brief their members in case anyone experiencing a problem contacts an installer rather than their platform operator. We will also be putting information about this change on the satellite BBC Red Button page 998 a bit nearer the time because we know not everyone has access to the internet.

If you watch our HD services on satellite, I hope this change won't cause you any worry.

Alix Pryde is Director, BBC Distribution

Follow @AbouttheBBC on twitter for all the latest updates.

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