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Changes to access of BBC live radio streams on selected TuneIn platforms in the UK

Kieran Clifton

Director, BBC Distribution & Business Development

Today, I wanted to give you an update on some changes. From August 30th, our live radio streams will no longer be available via TuneIn on some platforms in the UK. We’re working closely with TuneIn to ensure that this is done in a way that doesn’t disrupt your overall listening experience – so our live radio streams are only coming off TuneIn on platforms where an alternative way of listening is easily available.

Why is this change being made?

We don’t make these sorts of changes lightly – so it might be helpful if I explain a little bit more around the reasons why.

As many of you know, as a public service, we have a remit to make sure you can watch and listen to our programmes in ways that are both easy and convenient for you. Our TV programmes are available for you to watch on-demand on over 10,000 devices and platforms on BBC iPlayer here in the UK. And our audio content is available on BBC Sounds and BBC iPlayer Radio as well as a range of third-party apps, including Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Radioplayer and Acast as well as a multiple internet enabled smart speakers and radios. But, to be able to do this, we have a number of policies and rights agreements in place with these platforms to ensure you receive the best versions of our services and get maximum value from your licence fee. One increasingly important part of these policies is around the data we get back from platforms.

We want our programmes, products and services to be the best they can be. And a major way we ensure that is by using meaningful data. Data is more and more important – as it helps us to make more types of programmes we know people like, and equally importantly, identify gaps in our commissioning to ensure we’re making something for all audiences. We also use the data collected about what you watch, listen to or read online to offer personalised programme recommendations – and make our services even more tailored to you.

When we make our programmes available via third parties, we ask that those platforms either allow you to sign into your BBC account – or provide us with meaningful data directly. Unfortunately, TuneIn doesn’t do either of these, so we couldn’t reach a data sharing agreement with them.

What about podcasts on TuneIn?

Podcasts on TuneIn will be unaffected by this change – as programmes made available as podcasts are distributed to third parties via something called an RSS-feed. This has a different set of rights and requirements in our policy – due to the nature of podcasting. So, you’ll still be able to access BBC podcasts on TuneIn – as well as on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and hundreds of other podcast providers that operate in a way that you have come to expect.

Does this change affect TuneIn on all devices?

As mentioned above, we’re trying to do this in a way that causes the least disruption for you.

For the platforms on which the majority of TuneIn listening takes place, there are alternative, convenient ways to listen to the BBC’s radio stations.

The BBC’s radio stations can be accessed on the BBC Sounds website, as well as the BBC Sounds and BBC iPlayer Radio apps for Android and iOS, which also support playback on a wide range of speakers via wireless technologies such as Bluetooth, Chromecast and Apple AirPlay. Meanwhile, those of you with Amazon Echo speakers or many other devices which support Alexa can access BBC radio stations via the BBC’s Alexa skill. And, if you have a Google Home device, you can listen to our stations using either Chromecast or your voice. Our stations can also be accessed on digital TV platforms and DAB digital radio.

A number of older audio devices that offer an internet radio service powered by TuneIn will not currently be affected by this change – as it’s neither technically or economically practicable to deploy these data-driven features. We will also continue to provide BBC live radio steams via TuneIn on Sonos speakers – while we explore alternative options for enabling the playback of BBC radio on these devices in a way that ensures you get maximum value from your licence fee.

I hope you find this helpful and explain why we’re making these changes in the UK. Outside the UK, our services with TuneIn will continue as is – as they are and continue to be a valued partner.

As always, I’ll be in touch with any further updates. Thanks very much for reading.

Update from Kieran:

Thank you for your feedback. We are working to make the transition as seamless as possible and your views are very helpful. But I can see from the comments, there are a few questions, so I wanted to get in touch to answer them.

The withdrawal does not have any impact on our editorial output so all our coverage can still be accessed on BBC Sounds and/or BBC Sport online.

As mentioned, older internet radio devices that are powered by TuneIn will remain unaffected by this change.

Google Home does not rely on TuneIn and you will still be able to access live radio using your voice.

We are pushing the boundaries as far as we can with our custom skill but Amazon does not make features such as alarms and multi-room playback available to custom skills. We will continue to work with Amazon to find a solution.

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