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BBC Red Button video service arrives on Freesat

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Ronald Bullen | 14:01 UK time, Friday, 28 January 2011

2008 saw the launch of a brand new digital TV platform, with the BBC instrumental in delivering both channels and interactive content on to Freesat.

The BBC Red Button offering on the new platform was not quite the same as that on our existing platforms such as Sky, Virgin Media and Freeview and this has generated some comments since then. In particular, Freesat viewers have been keen to enjoy the same video content that was made available on other platforms. I want to update these Freesat viewers on some exciting developments.

Today, all Freesat viewers (broadcast and IP connected boxes) will be able to access our single stream video services as well as the Sport Multiscreen service that accompanied the initial launch; this brings Freesat viewers a wider range of BBC Red Button video-based services to enjoy.


First for Freesat viewers is the new Being Human spin off, Becoming Human, available from 30 January, along with more exclusive content from comedy show Episodes.

This product development enables us to add these video service links via existing scheduling tools which launches an (MHEG) application allowing the viewer to be taken to our interactive streams and back again.

We are aware that still not all services offered on our legacy platforms are available on Freesat; however this is an exciting development for the BBC Red Button team and one we hope to build on in the future.

All BBC Red Button listings can be found here via our regular What's On posting and we have noted where a service is now available across all TV platforms.

Ronald Bullen is Service Delivery Manager, BBC Red Button


  • Comment number 1.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 2.

    That's been so long in coming I thought it had been quietly abandoned, but it's a massive step forward for Freesat.

    Now just need Freeview sorting - it's a bit of a mess at the moment with an hour of this and a couple of hours of that, and even at times when events only require one stream coverage is still often interrupted.

  • Comment number 3.

    Really glad to hear the Red Button interactive video content has been sorted out on Freesat and the list above looks much better with it showing as being available for 90% of what is now available behind the red button.

    How come though are the News Multiscreens still not available via 1001? Is this still 'work in progress' as these are something I'd really find useful. I notice the Ocean Finance channel on Freesat has a working multiscreen interractive menu which links to a 4x split screen mosaic, works well so I'm assuming the MHEG code has been written and tested to implement these sort of apps?

  • Comment number 4.

    I've just tried to find Christian O'Connell's Five Live Red Button video but can't seem to see it on the Red Button homepage. Do you need to select a page for this as I can't see it listed as a menu option on Freesat? They have just mentioned on-air that the video is specifically available to all on Freesat, VM and Sky so wondering where it is hidden?

  • Comment number 5.

    Further to my earlier comment today I've discovered a potential problem in that it appears the 'connected' Red Button menu isn't showing these new video options within the menu. If I disconnect the network cable from the back then both 'Episodes' and the 'Manics Gig' options appear and they play ok.

    Just thought I best make you aware of this, is it the MHEG scheduling of the 'Connected' menu has not been updated to reflect these changes?

  • Comment number 6.

    @Ronald Bullen, Thank you very much for delivering this long awaited improvement to red button on freesat and for even being brave enough to link to my original comments!

    @neil201, I think they have fixed the connected menu, it is now working fine on my connected foxsat hdr showing the new services.

    @Ronald Bullen - the yellow/back button does not work from the single
    stream app - most the time it flicks back to tv, the reloads the single stream app with the "please wait" message leaving you stuck in that application.

    @Ronald Bullen/Nick Reynolds can you comment on whether we will see any of the following missing aspects of "Red Button" on Freesat, I know you can't always comment on timescales, but it would be nice to know if any/some of these are on the list

    A) Does this mean we will see the (non-internet based) multiscreen services like Glastonbury?
    B) The A-Z index menu (page 199)
    C) The ability to press 0 to hide the menu like on the sky version
    D) News multiscreen
    E) red button working on cbbc & cbeebies channels
    F) The extra interactive radio information that is available on freeview
    G) CBeebies interactive & games
    H) true interactive like "In it to win it", test the nation etc..
    I) travel (page 430) the bbci tech team posted here https://www.digitalspy.co.uk/forums/showpost.php?p=29892933&postcount=3 that it was scheduled for spring 2009!
    J) the full content of BBC Two Ceefax pages 461, 465, 470, 568 and the bits of 695-698 that are still Ceefax-only


  • Comment number 7.

    This may be well and good, but how long will it last? Isn't this just a sticking plaster on a much bigger malaise. I would like to echo Nathan Lockes comments about Mr Bullen, he's clearly courageous and brave.


  • Comment number 8.

    Hi All, many thanks for your comments. I will try and answer your points now.

    News Multiscreen: This is something we would like to add to the BBC Freesat offering, however at the moment, the wider team are focused on other projects and a release is not planned in the near future. Feedback is of course welcome and I will pass everything on to see if this will be included in any future planning.

    IP Connected Menu link missing: Thanks for pointing this out. The scheduling of links on IP boxes is managed separately at the moment as a manual process and unfortunately this slipped through the net for launch. We have a process in place to ensure links are indeed added to the IP menu from now on. An automated approach will be forthcoming and therefore all services carried on broadcast boxes will also be carried on IP connected boxes automatically from this point.

    Yellow button functionality on IP connected boxes: Again, thanks for pointing this out. Our team are looking into why this is happening and I hope to update you all soon.

    @Nathan Lock - Many more points to address! I'll go away and try to answer those I haven't already in one go.

  • Comment number 9.

    Update on Yellow button functionality on IP connected boxes. We've sorted the issue and everything should be working as expected now.

  • Comment number 10.

    The News Multi-screens are probably the most viewed features of the Red Button's "on demand" offering to give you a news and weather summary. I myself know a couple of other Freesat users who've migrated from Sky and mentioned to me about why it doesn't have these Multi-screen menus. It may definitely be something worth considering for the future as with Freesat's unit sales/user base growing faster than any other platform (latest sales figures at 1.6m) there are becoming more and more viewers who would benefit from these final Red Button menus that for most would complete all the BBC offerings from the service the majority would wish for.

  • Comment number 11.

    I was about to post the exact same comment as neil201! I know that when I had sky, the news multiscreen was the part I used most of bbci, and it is the same for many of my friends. I think you have seriously under estimated how important this is to freesat viewers and should re-evaluate the teams priorities as I again repeat freesat is 2 years old now and is increasing in popularity every day.

    If you really can't prioritise this yet, then at least add the news and weather loops to the connected menu as a stop gap please.

  • Comment number 12.

    To add to Nathan's comments, my guess too would also be that Freesat's viewer base will increase a fair bit this year, not only via Sky churners (who purchase units to replace Sky STB's) but also as this year is one of the biggest in terms of DSO which will also push sales way past the 2m mark.

  • Comment number 13.

    Have you managed to get any answers yet Ronald please?

  • Comment number 14.

    Not working on my connected Humax box. Video weather forecast for instance is greyed out whether it's connected to the 'net or not. Anyone know whats going on?

  • Comment number 15.

    Red Button not working on freesat - primary BBC channels last few days.
    only get the red button banner on screen on first switch on of TV and Humax box on channel 200 news, there after no access to red button on any channel except the new 901 iplayer however it says no internet connection.
    previously used mains D-links for iplayer access to router no problem for last year now can't get iplayer on freesat new channel.
    Do I need to configure the network on my Humax foxset as previously only had had to connect d-link mains to router to Humax box and plug and played ok without any config required using red button access on primary BBB channels.

  • Comment number 16.

    Hi All, Just to say, I am still chasing those answers for you @Nathan Lock.
    @Blackjack Davy & @Yorkshire_Stephen, thanks for the comments. I will pass them on to our technical team to see if there were any reasons that may have caused the issues you mention from our end. Thanks for your patience. Ronald

  • Comment number 17.

    Looking forward to your response about the last few bits of Ceefax not yet on Red Button, RB, as I''ve been awaiting a news update to https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/pressred/2009/05/nextsixmonths.shtml reagarding Freeview and the old Teletext News and Weather bits for some time (we're still no Tide Times on the TV!)

  • Comment number 18.

    Have you done something to the red button (DOG) on Freesat so it keeps coming back on screen?
    Before today on my Foxsat HDR it would auto timeout after a few seconds but now the DOG comes back :(
    The Green button seems to clear it with this model but it seems not with all Freesat boxes making the DOG permanent.
    Can you please fix it.
    BTW, same problem on all BBC channels on Freesat.

  • Comment number 19.

    It would be very useful to be able to record the Freesat Sports Multiscreen video streams in the same way that they can be recorded when they appear on Freeview channel 301. It is surprising how often one has to go out when an event is scheduled but can't record it for 'as live' viewing later! Could the BBC not make life easier by making recording of these streams possible on Freesat?

  • Comment number 20.

    "Press Red" and sometimes "iPlayer" with a red dot appear on the screen continuously since yesterday when watching BBC channels. I have a Humax HDR and am connected to the internet. If I press "Exit" the red button message top right goes away but reappears after exactly 5 seconds. Prior to yesterday the message disappeared after 30 seconds. Why has this changed - it is not good for plasma screens.

  • Comment number 21.

    I too am having the same problem with the Red Button now permanently displayed on-screen without the option of removing it, this is quite annoying not only because it obscures the screen but also as it will give issues arising to 'burn in' on my LCD TV panel.

    Has a decision been made to make this happen? Previously it would auto time-out after about 5 or 10 seconds which was great as we all know where the red button services are located etc.

  • Comment number 22.

    No response from the BBC to the changes made to the Red DOG behaviour or even any advice given to users that to hide it they must press green on their remote (which does not seem to work on all models of Freesat boxes).
    BBC, please test your software properly before launching it in future on thousands of unsuspecting Freesat boxes..

  • Comment number 23.

    On the non-timing out press red icons, we've recently released a tool on Freesat that enables us to swap and change them easily. The original configuration was set for the icons to time out after 10800 seconds (also known as three hours) and you're right, that's just a bit long for most situations. We've tweaked the configuration to make it just a few hours shorter! The icons should now time out after 30 seconds or less.

    It's also possible to remove them manually using the green button on Freesat and Freeview, and blue on Sky and Virgin Media (for more information, see this blog post from 2009 - https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/pressred/2009/02/pressred.shtml%29


  • Comment number 24.

    Hallo Andrew! Did that VHS referred to in https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcilabs/2008/10/freesat_radio.html ever turn up?

  • Comment number 25.

    Hi Sue. It did, but it's in a huge folder of files waiting to be edited I'm afraid after I had some technical problems on my home PC. I'll get there one day...

  • Comment number 26.

    I've got a Panasonic TV (2010 model) and Develo home hub - hard wired, works fine. Sometimes I can't get the red button to work at all, others I can get it to work, but I can't get iPlayer connected. There doesn't seem any pattern in the availability - same on all BBC channels.

    Anyone got the same problem? Any solutions??

  • Comment number 27.

    Its nearly a month now since I posted my questions, any answers yet please @Ronald Bullen?

  • Comment number 28.

    I have a Panasonic G20 TV with freesat and working internet connection.
    I noted from an internet forum that video streams were now available via red button on freesat.
    I checked on my tv and saw that the red button did indeed show these new streams as an option. However when selected the message "this is not supported on your device" or words to that effect was displayed.

    Today I looked again at the red button options on my tv and the options are not there now.

    Can someone explain please?

  • Comment number 29.

    Best ask Panasonic - their contact details are available by using links from www.joinfreesat.co.uk

  • Comment number 30.

    It looks like Ronald is struggling to get any answers in a timely manner then.

  • Comment number 31.

    Well, page Ceefax page 568 has gone so that's one less from the wishlist that'll be considered for making it over to Red Button.

  • Comment number 32.

    Hi All,

    Sorry for the huge delay in responding!

    I’ve chased and chased and can now respond to (most of) the points raised by @Nathan Lock #6 as promised. Unfortunately, some of the answers may not be the news you were hoping for! I can only apologise and pass on your comments.

    (A) I am happy to say we are currently developing ‘eTV Multiscreen’ offerings on the Freesat platform. We are unsure what the first outing will be as yet, although I will drop a line on here once everything is confirmed. It will be this summer though.

    (C) This functionality does exist, however it is activated by the green button on the Freesat platform. The only exception to this is some IP enabled boxes, where as IP is relatively new, the initial BBC Red Button menu is separated and doesn’t recognise this functionality. Elsewhere in the service, green should minimise as expected. The team are investigating this missing functionality on IP.

    (F) This is more a question for the Audio and Music teams, and from previous discussions with us at BBC Red Button, it is not something high on their priority list and therefore not something we plan to be doing any time soon.

    (H) The products you mention are other eTV services. As the major part of our output comes from single stream and multi stream offerings, these were the first products to be developed on the Freesat platform. Developments on these other products are constantly in discussion and if any news about their future on Freesat is decided, I will let you all know.

    (I) This data is available to us, however it is not ‘plumbed’ into the Freesat offering as yet. It would not be too difficult to arrange this and hopefully this can be added soon.

    (B), (D), (E), (G) and (J) There are currently no plans to do any work on these points. This may well change in the future but the focus for the upcoming months will be on other areas.

  • Comment number 33.

    Thank you Ronald for getting pack to us with the answers and I appreciate your honesty.

    I am really surprised that b) an A-Z page is not a priority. How are new users supposed to know of the existence of some sections without an index?

    There is something that really puzzles me though and I would really love it if you could answer this, (maybe it will need a whole new blog entry to explain/answer this)

    Why if Freesat & Freeview are both based on MHEG, is it so hard to port these already developed Freeview etv apps across to Freesat?
    MHEG is supposed to be standard for just this purpose and most the things I have been asking about do already exist for Freeview.
    (I obviously understand why the sky apps based on the totally different OPENTV platform cannot be used)

    Lastly thanks for the explanation about the green button minimise function, yes I am using a connected IP humax box, which is why it doesn't work then.

  • Comment number 34.

    I think the issue is more the priority of the above points in comparison to the other work streams the team is focusing on. It's not hard to develop them as you correctly point out, but we have finite resources available to us and unfortunately other areas are deemed a higher priority at this time to give value to the license fee payer.

    I will of course pass on your comments as promised, and should there be any developments I will re-post.

  • Comment number 35.

    Thank you again Ronald for responding. I think though that bringing Freesat up to the same standard as other platforms should be a higher priority than developing anything else, when the BBC's stated aim is to be platform neutral where possible. I think that after 2 years it is time it got a bit of attention.


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