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The BBC's International Radio Streams During the Olympics

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Mark Friend Mark Friend 15:41, Friday, 27 July 2012

UPDATE (29 July): After discussion, the IOC and the BBC have agreed that there is no need to block our international streams of Radio 4 programmes with a wide news agenda. Radio 5 Live (apart from the news programme Up All Night) and 5 Live Olympics Extra will remain available only in the UK. The Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Radio 2 will also now be available internationally. Radio 5 Live Sports Extra coverage of non Olympic Sports will be available as normal.

Original post (27 July): One of the benefits of the BBC’s online radio streams is that listeners all over the world can enjoy just about all our programmes live and on demand.

Unfortunately, there are some types of content where we are restricted from distributing overseas, usually because of sports rights. The impact of this will be very noticeable throughout the Olympic Games because the BBC has the rights to broadcast from Olympic venues only to the UK.

This is what happened on the Today Programme this morning. When parts of BBC radio programmes are broadcast from an Olympic site, the live and on demand stream will be blocked to international audiences for the duration of that segment. International audiences will hear a message informing them of the rights restrictions in place.

Some entire BBC radio stations will only be available in the UK for the duration of the Games. For example, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and BBC Radio 5 live olympics extra all have substantial coverage from the Olympic sites and will be blocked to international audiences.

When whole, or large parts of, programmes are broadcast from an Olympic site, the entire programme will be blocked to international audiences. The frequency of this may vary. For example:

  • Radio 2's Chris Evans' Breakfast Show is broadcasting from the Olympic Park and will be blocked to international audiences for the duration of the Games.
  • Radio 4’s Today Programme was broadcast from the Olympic Park on Friday 27 July and therefore blocked to international audiences on that day.

In some cases, when only parts of programmes are broadcast from an Olympic site, it may be possible to block the Olympics segment and make the rest of the programme available internationally. This will apply to many editions of Radio 4’s Today Programme.

Mark Friend is Controller Multi-platforms & Interactive BBC Audio and Music.

More detail can found at iPlayer Help

Frequently Asked Questions


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  • Comment number 1.

    Quite simply the BBC has agreed to censor NEWS not just a sports programme. This has never happened before and it's a disgrace. The BBC used to be a beacon of freedom and independence. That has now completely gone and my respect for the BBC has gone with it.

  • Comment number 2.

    I utterly understand why Radio 5 commentary etc. will be blocked, but to block a pre-Olympics interview, which just happened to be at an Olympic venue, is madness - that was on WATO. Can't you send the stream back to HQ and broadcast from there for news items, it seems to me that would be entirely in the spirit of the rights agreement.

    I assume this blocking was the reason I was unable to hear the last five minutes of an afternoon play about Zola Budd.

    Also, why not just do silence, rather than the aggravatingly overfast repetition of the due to rights restrictions message.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    Why must the entire the Today programme, and now PM, be blocked?

  • Comment number 5.

    I presume the news programme 'PM' is "unavailbale" (as your high-speed voice keeps telling me) because of some sort of Olympic censorship.
    By the way, please inform me if I have just broken the law by using the words 'olympic' and 'censorship' together. I don't want the police banging on my door.
    Will you get your 'voice' to tell us when we can listen to the news again and also what parts (as opposed to 'this part') of the programme will be available?

  • Comment number 6.

    I agree completely. The effect of this mind-numbing message is simply to force me to tune away from Radio 4, as there is no indication of how long it will last. I am therefore also effectively prevented from hearing the BBC's independent coverage of other news, as the Olympics will understandably figure prominently in the news of the next couple of weeks. Coverage of an entire sporting event is different from an article about the event in the course of a news program.
    It would be refreshing to see an intelligent approach to NBC's understandable concern that their ability to subject me to paid advertising not be compromised by my listening to the BBC. It should be obvious that their interests would not be harmed by allowing me to listen to PM in its entirety in my office. Now I'm just going to have to find a Hancock's Half Hour to listen to instead. How does that help them?
    Let's at least get an announcement as to when we can tune back in, rather than going insane from the announcement loop (assuming the announcer isn't already going insane from repeating it live).

  • Comment number 7.

    Thank you for the oh-so-early notice.

  • Comment number 8.

    The BBC should stand up to this restriction of free speech, not kowtow and then sheepishly explain later.

  • Comment number 9.

    So why should we fight for free speech and the World Service when the BBC readily and without any warning whatsoever censors politics, economics, arts, war(!), comments, religion, a presidential election, and so much more to satisfy a single issue monopolist commercial lobby group.

    What's next, no sports news during the Glyndebourne?

  • Comment number 10.

    "Due to rights restrictions, the BBC is not permitted to broadcast openly from within the Olympic Park, but we have the following report from neighbouring Stratford Regional Station."

    I don't want to listen to sports news, I just want to listen to news. However if you have dragged all those poor Radio 4 presenters to the Olympic Park, perhaps I don't want to bother anyway.

  • Comment number 11.

    I totally agree, this is censorship of the news, and as such a blunt instrument. I hear you can listen via a virtual network, but why should I? PM and Today are available on satellite if you have one, but again, why should I? It's high-handed, unfair and needs to be taken further. But where? (Government will be useless, BBC Trust will take too long.) I know that radio is not licence-fee charged, but, come on, part of the fee MUST go towards it. I pay the licence in the UK, I cannot listen when abroad. And this announcement is arrogantly late. I have been a loyal R4/Home Service listener for decades. This is no way to treat any listener. I have always defended the BBC through thick and thin. Bad show BBC. Get up off your knees.

  • Comment number 12.

    Could you replace the eerie-sounding loop with some genuine information? Before searching the BBC and then the Radio 4 website for information about the blocked programmes, I had tried on an off all day to listen to various Radio 4 news programmes. The loop message was so opaque as to be completely uninformative until the pattern of 'no news' started to become apparent. It might as well have been martial music. I still have no idea whether it's worth trying to hear any news programme tomorrow.
    Coming on top of losing the World Service on our radios in Europe, this feels like a further betrayal of my faith in the BBC.

  • Comment number 13.

    There was no word of this until suddenly PM disappeared to be replaced by this very annoying fast-forward repeated message. Now even the Six O'Clock News has gone.
    Is this the BBC succumbing to the brand fascism that has come to be a byword for these Games?
    Does the BBC Charter now permit news broadcasts to be censored?

  • Comment number 14.

    Now the 6 o'clock news is also unavailable in its entirety? It is truly scary that an American corporation can totally prevent all news coverage in this way. Importantly, including any coverage of this issue. This is truly a glimpse of what it is like to live in a totalitarian society where the powerful control and dictates all public access to media. The BBC needs to liberate its news team from the gaol of censorship. Is Bush House available?

  • Comment number 15.

    This still does not explain why we can't listen to the 6 o'clock news tonight...do Corey Corfield, Charlotte Green, Charles Carroll, Zeb Soanes etc etc
    really have to traipse over to Stratford to read the news?

    What's wrong with their comfortable chair in BH?

  • Comment number 16.

    I am a BBC license payer but just happen to be on holiday in Europe at the moment. I am very disappointed that I can not listen to PM or even the 6pm news over the web at the moment due to 'rights restrictions'. My very strongest protest to the BBC for allowing such an action!

  • Comment number 17.

    So, is the 6 O'clock news being broadcast from the Olympic Park as well? Or should I just give up on Radio 4 for the next month?

  • Comment number 18.

    As a BBC license payer living temporarily in Europe I send my strongest protest to the BBC that they will not let me listen to PM and the Six O'Clock news (and maybe other forthcoming programmes) over the web!

  • Comment number 19.

    I think it is shocking that the Olympics and their wealthy sponsors even stop us from hearing the 6'o clock news! Just as daft as the Nike trainers and the Pepsi T-shirt! True Olympic spirit???
    A disgruntled Radio 4 fan in Nuremberg

  • Comment number 20.

    We cannot believe that as UK residents who pay all our taxes and licence fee there, we cannot listen to the most important part of BBC radio 4 over the entire Olympics period, just because we happen to be on holiday in France. This seems to be totally against all principals of including everyone in the British Olympic adventure. Quite agree with those who condemn the 'voice' - it is guarantee to annoy, and is completely uninformative. Surely you could arrange to say when BBC Radio 4 will be back on stream. And to prevent any broadcasts from BBC5 channels is idiocy. Any other nations broadcasts, do not give as much emphasis on the UK competitors. Please re-negotiate the deal and put us out of our anger and misery!

  • Comment number 21.

    This is not 1984, but 2012; sponsors forbid 'wrong' t-shirts and shoes, and IOK stops news broadcasting from its venues. Holy Moses where are we heading?

  • Comment number 22.

    Want to add my support to the above comments, which are unanimous in their criticisms.

    It makes sense for the BBC to restrict broadcasts of Olympics-related content. But to restrict all content that emanates from the Olympic park is ridiculous, certainly if the corporation insists on moving (no doubt at considerable expense) its main news and current affairs programmes to Stratford.

    Kindly restore Today, the World at One, PM, the Six O'Clock news and all other programmes that aren't specifically concerned with the Olympics to Broadcasting House.

  • Comment number 23.

    What a sad, silly way for the BBC to have its R4 programming & transmissions sabotaged "due to rights restrictions" --- it beggars belief!

  • Comment number 24.

    Okay, we are all agreed, this self-inflicted censorship is dreadful.

    If you are not going to be bothered to find a workaround,(which you should) then at least get Harriet or Charlotte to record a once off message, and follow it with a quiet bit of Vaughan Williams. If you have the technology to do live pause on iplayer TV surely this is not too much to ask?

    It is the unexpectedness, and the open ended time scale - when is the proper news going to return - which makes this so unacceptable on Radio 4.

    Fine, during a live sports broadcast on Radio 5, a once only hearing of the message prompts one to give up. It's very different on PM, Today or WATO.

  • Comment number 25.

    So the BBC does not have the right to broadcast news about an event which we are constantly told is the most important for this country and the whole world and on which we have spent billions. Er, I thought we treasured the BBC World Service...serving every corner of the globe consistently upholding unwavering principles of truth and objectivity, shining light into dark corners, giving hope to the powerless. My view is that it's CAPITALISM GONE MAD. The one institution that is meant to be impartial and historically above question in its fearless independence has sold itself out for a mess of pottage. I would like to know who is responsible for this venal decision which has made the BBC a laughing stock and has brought it into disrepute.

  • Comment number 26.

    This is utterly, utterly ridiculous.

    Why is the BBC's flagship news radio programme being censored simply because a segment is broadcast from a different part of London than normal?

    It is still first and foremost a news programme; how on earth can this be subject to 'rights restrictions'?

  • Comment number 27.

    So the BBC signed up to a deal which effectively censors who they can broadcast the news to( and I mean news, not commercial sport) - how disappointing. Ironically we can get world service, but every time i have turned that on today all they are on about is the Olympics, ad infinitum - no proper news at all.

  • Comment number 28.

    I have little to add to the comments written thus far: I agree with every one. Words fail me. I can find none that will adequately express my amazement and disgust at the crass ineptitude with which the BBC has comported itself today. This is one formerly loyal Radio 4 listener deeply disappointed to see what I considered a jewel in Britain's crown and a global-quality beacon of journalistic integrity submitting to the contemptible dictatorship of the IOC. Shame on you Radio 4.

  • Comment number 29.

    I'm not interested in the Olympics; I am interested in other news but from the above comments gather that I will be blocked from listening for the next two weeks. Thank you very much indeed.

  • Comment number 30.

    Now, listen BBC. You do not go to a lawyer and say "can I do this". You say "Ï am going to do this".

    Please - with news broadcasts - you really MUST take the initiative, otherwise your well deserved reputation is toast.

    Just get it sorted. You are looking at - what - ten days of the BBC looking like imbeciles. That's longer than a week in politics.

  • Comment number 31.

    Could you be good enough to provide a link to whoever your bosses are - maybe the BBC Trust? Because I'd like to take this further - ten, twelve, whatever days effectively offline is an appalling prospect for BBC Radio online.

    I'm sure you are simply following misguided orders, but maybe you should question them. As I (and many other commenters) accept, the ban on live broadcasting of Olympic events (ex UK) is understandable. The ban on news is not.

  • Comment number 32.

    Nation shall speak unto Nation except when censored by the Olympic. Will be using #LikeSyria to make my views know on Twitter.
    You will be pleased to know I watched BBC coverage on satellite. Now off to set up VPN and normal service will be resumed.
    The BBC are looking like idiots and the IOC like a bunch of despotic dictators

  • Comment number 33.

    This is a b......y disgrace and, as a fully paid up licence paying expat, I'm disappointed that the BBC, supposedly the voice of truth and impartiality to the world, has had to succumb to the commercial censorship imposed by the IOC. London itself is resembling a police state over the next 2 weeks and it appears that the BBC is playing along.

  • Comment number 34.

    I'm used to listening to the Today program online in the evenings here in Australia. I love it. Now I'm getting the ghastly message often referred to above, and no indication of when I can resume listening to quality news and current events from London. Only ten per cent of the costs of the 2012 London Olympics has been met by its sponsors; the other 90% has come from taxpayers' money. So why have you caved in to pressure from the multinationals? Oh! of course! because that's what all western governments and their henchmen do. And there was I thinking the BBC was independent.

  • Comment number 35.

    I am genuinely saddaned and disappointed to think of the downfall of this institution BBC radio. They shot their integrity in the foot with action decided to be taken with the Olympics.
    They have decided to disrespect their listeners and go for gold instead... well they've lost the support, admiration - and ears of this once avid fan.

  • Comment number 36.

    And another thing. Below the Radio Four logo on my iPad appear the words "Intelligent speech". This most certainly does NOT apply to the high-speed message loop that tells me "Due to rights restrictions, this part of the programme is unavailable." That's stating the bleeding obvious. It would be intelligent to tell me which part, if any, of the programme WILL be available.

  • Comment number 37.

    Disgusting that the censorship continues into a second day of the Today programme. As a license paying Londoner, I'm funding this sham, how dare I go on holiday. The BBC should have figured this out by now, it is a disgrace to be blocking news and not in the spirit of the games or our great nation.

  • Comment number 38.

    I am really disapointed by how radio 4 is blocked simply because it broadcasts from the olympic village or whatever it is that blocks it- when I found out yesterday that there was a problem, i rang the complaint helpline and the guy on the phone did not have a clue: he told me that the BBC wanted to now charge anyone listening abroad. This is obviously rubbish.
    anyway, i am looking forward to in a couple of week's time when i will start listening again wihtout this idiotic''due to rights restrictions this program is unavailable''

  • Comment number 39.

    I totally agree with PB. The British should not be tied down by so called sporting officials.

  • Comment number 40.

    I read Mr Friend's message on Friday as indicating that the restrictions on Radio 4 would be unavailable only on that day. Now I find on Saturday that the same moronic message is preventing me from listening to the Today programme. And I have ust read in the Guardian online that this disruption is to persist for the entire of the Games period. It seems we have have stupidity and total disregard for the paying listener (yes, I pay the BBC's licence fee and pay all my taxes in the UK) compounded by a misleading, mendacious message from Mr Friend. Does anyone at the BBC have the slightest understanding of how important it is for those of us abroad to be able to listen? Self-evidently not. At what point, given the consistency of the response from frustrated listeners above and the obviousness of the mistake the BBC has made here, will it rectify its error and start providing us with the service we pay for? I can barely begin to express my anger at the mindless stupidity that seems to underlie this entire situation. Stupid, stupid, mindlessly, moronically stupid!

  • Comment number 41.

    At 19:53 Pson i Hvi: This is not 1984, but 2012; sponsors forbid 'wrong' t-shirts and shoes, and IOK stops news broadcasting from its venues. Holy Moses where are we heading? Easy - We are heading 'across the pond' where the rights have been dictated and the BBC bends the knee. 23:06 Bedebike, totally correct we hear a lot about H&S gone mad, but this IS capitalism gone mad. BBC, feel ashamed.
    Solution, boycott all the sponsors? - don't think that would work, and what about the critical Mass Demonstration outside? Not a BBC word yet.
    Oh by the way, something going on in Syria again for those who can't get the Today etc programmes. But don't worry, we can listen to the soothing anodyne message on R4. In the (censored and doctored) words of Brian Clough 'Oh BBC you are a bl***y disgrace!'

  • Comment number 42.

    A quite scandalously muddled decision. Just imagine that there should be a major *news* event at an Olympic site, or one elsewhere, but during an Olympic-located broadcast. The Beeb *will not* report on it to the world at large. Shocking.


  • Comment number 43.

    In case these comments matter to the BBC, I should add my agreement with the above posts. Without wanting to be dramatic, I am shocked that the BBC is allowing itself to be censored in this way. It obviously contradicts what (I thought!) the BBC represented.

  • Comment number 44.

    So censorship is now central to the Olympic spirit. The hypocrisy is breathtaking. It is very worrying that narrow commercial interests can remove global news and current affairs programmes and replace them with a mindless recorded message. It stinks - de Coubertin surely had something less Orwellian in mind - isn't it supposed to be about the sport, and the bringing together of nations, rather than the celebration of the quarterly statement ? The BBC has let itself, and us down badly.

  • Comment number 45.

    The face of things to come.
    Locked in the Olympic machine.
    I'm shocked that the BBC bends to this.
    I imagine the message ' unavailable .... infringement of copyright or whatever...' is the voice of future manipulation of human rights and democracy...... Shame on you, BBC!

  • Comment number 46.

    It is a great pity the BBC has blocked listening to so many people abroad, who rely on receiving information and comment on news and current affairs.
    I live in France and look forward to turning on my Wi-Fi radio to listen to radio 4. Especially being Olympic year in London.
    I am most disappointed and hope the BBC think carefully before allowing this to happen again.

  • Comment number 47.

    All the above also applies to live online broadcasts in Wales. need I say more...........................

  • Comment number 48.

    You've clearly stirred up a hornet's nest over this and you should take note of so much displeasure. I am indeed happy to avoid any mention of the Olympics in which I have negative interest. I do not want my news censured.
    I am a license holder.
    I now have 123 names of other license holders who are taking legal advice on suing the BBC over this matter. Barrister's opinion so far is not unfavourable. Perhaps there are others out there who might be interested in adding their names.

  • Comment number 49.

    As a daily listener to Today, and resident of France, I start my day with your excellent program via the web.

    For the BBC to accept a situation where its freedom to broadcast is controlled by a sports organisation (and or its sponsors) is incredible.

    If the issue is broadcasting programs from Olympic Venues - Simply stop wandering off to these locations.

    If the issue is the "Sports News Content" leave that stuff to Radio 5
    and please keep Today on the Air

  • Comment number 50.

    I was shocked by the loss of Today and PM. Sports are available on 5 Live and 5 Live extra. Visual effects are lost on radio , it makes no difference if broadcast is from Salford , White City or even Bush House. Why on earth score an own goal and alienate loyal listeners. A warning shot across the bows would have eased the pain Auntie Beeb. On par with Korean flag debacle. Very naughty indeed.

  • Comment number 51.

    For many years the BBC has been my lifeline to Britain. I am not interested in the ridiculous dog and pony show but I am outraged that the BBC has handed unprecedented control over everyday speech to the organisers. This kind of censorship runs counter to everything that the Olympics are supposed to stand for. Shame on the venal sponsors who have demanded it. Shame on the BBC bureaucrats who have yielded to pressure. As history has shown the Left has always been prepared to restrict the freedom of speech.

  • Comment number 52.

    This is a disgrace. I am PAYING for the Olympics (not that I am even that interested) and now they are CENSORING THE NEWS. Why? Because some American corporation has told them to. This needs to stop now. NOW! Who do I complain to? BBC, you have just lost your credibility. What if something has happened in London? How will I know? This is the beginning of totalitarianism. I am already sick of the 'sponsors' (who only provide 10% of funding) having 100% control. WE THE BRITISH PUBLIC have provided 90% of the funding, therefore WE should be in control.

    It is UNACCEPTABLE that a corrupt corporation should dictate what we hear.

  • Comment number 53.

    BBC 4 Extra WE NEED YOU!
    Why isn't my BBC Player not working since the Olympics started? Please technical BBC folks please, oh please fix the problem- I don't want to miss the re-broadcast of a Tony Hancock radio show from 1958- as well as the other great Radio 4 extra shows. I'm in Vancouver British Columbia, BTW.
    Don't leave me to the mercies of North American media- it is as terrible as you've heard.

  • Comment number 54.

    to 09:17 davpol: happy to contribute to any action that will wake the BBC up to the enormity of the mistake it has made here. I am also a licence holder. Details of how to contribute?

  • Comment number 55.

    And don't try to get the live text coverage on the BBC Sport website (just tried the Road Race). 'I'm sorry, we can't show this content in your area.' Thanks BBC. Doing a great job. I don't want to veg in front of the TV all day, but looks like I'll have to. Is that my legacy? Considering an e-petition. Any thoughts? (Apart from probably a waste of time)

  • Comment number 56.

    It is hard to believe that the BBC is so behind the curve of its audience requirements. I buy my newspaper on line and put in my username & password to collect it. I've paid my licence fee. Why can't I, while abroad, log in with my username and licence number and receive all the radio programmes I have paid for? Surely, that is my right.

    To suddenly 'block' news broadcasts without warning to fee paying licence payers is scandalous and must be justified publicly.

  • Comment number 57.

    Everything I feel like saying has been said. You know you got it wrong.
    Incidentally, I e-mailed PM programme a couple of days ago when this first happened and they got straight back to me. It was obvious that programme makers/presenters feel exactly the way listeners do.

    I assume that somebody can explain to you what happens when somebody sitting at a computer bumps up against censorship.

  • Comment number 58.

    We had technical problems that meant some of the BBC Radio live streams were unavailable in the UK and Internationally for a while this morning. The issue has been resolved and we are looking into the causes. This loss of output was not related to the rights issues covered in this blog.
    Andrew Caspari
    Head of Speech Radio and Classical Music, Interactive

  • Comment number 59.

    Relaxed at 01.34 Initially one complains to w w w. bbc.co.uk/ complaints/ then if you are unhappy about that way the complain is handled (note that point) you contact BBC Trust https:// ww w.bbc.co. uk/ bbctrust/ contact_us/complaints /appeal_trust. html (have put spaces in URLs because may be automatically blocked. You can only go to the Trust in certain circumstances. With you all the way.

  • Comment number 60.

    BTW, while I'm as upset by these netcast restrictions as much as anyone, what's the thing with comments here blaming the Americans, or American corporations? As far as I can figure, this "deal" is struck between the Beeb (London), the IOC (Switzerland), the Olympic Broadcasting Service (Madrid) and the London Olympic Organizing Committee....


  • Comment number 61.

    Have duly complained about Andrew Caspari's bizarre comment, which strangely announces that it is off topic and therefore breaks the house rules.

    Andrew, how can you read 57 critical comments and not spend one word on an apology or explanation, never mind a remedy?

  • Comment number 62.

    agb: I doubt it's the committees you mention who initiated these changes; the corporate sponsors, wherever they may be from, have put pressure on those committees to restrict the BBC's usual online services. It's a commercial agreement. We might have hoped the Olympic Games committees and a free-to-air national public broadcaster would have refused to accept such a limitation being imposed by offshore interests.

  • Comment number 63.

    I usually have better things to do than to register on a website in order to make a point that I am certain will have no impact on the decision makers. But the crassness of the BBC's handling of the restriction of rights that lead to the Today and other news programmes being blocked to online listeners overseas (who may well be overseas entirely so as to avoid the Olympics) beggars belief and justifies my making the effort to do so.

    Radio is, after all, entirely about sound rather than visuals, so why does it matter from where your presenters present? I can assure you that no listener's enjoyment of the programme is enhanced by it physically being broadcast from Stratford, but by choosing to do so you have effectively disenfranchised many other licence paying listeners altogether.

  • Comment number 64.

    12:06 agb NBC

  • Comment number 65.

    I live outside the UK and I acknowledge at the outset that the BBC is not obliged to provide me with a service. However, I love listening to Radio 4 over the web as do millions(?) like me.

    Imagine my confusion and distress at being jerked out of my sleep the other morning at 5.30am by an insistent, frenetic and frankly, aggressive voice telling me via a speeded-up loop that I wouldn't be able to hear my programme. Why? What had I done? When would I be able to listen again - if ever?

    Thankfully I've discovered via the internet that it's just for the duration of the Olympics. Phew! As I'm not a sports fan it's just another reason for me to look forward to the day that the whole thing is over.

    Would it be possible to run this message in a less Orwellian form? Perhaps even conveying a little information? You could explain, for example, in a soothing tone, that it's only for the duration of these wretched Olympics and that it'll soon be all over and things can then get back to normal.

  • Comment number 66.

    I fully agree with all the above comments on the disgraceful behaviour of the BBC in censoring legitimate radio news programmes to licence payers who are temporarily abroad, just because of where they happen to be broadcast from. In this case the censorship is only too obvious, but now that we know that the BBC is comfortable with the principle of censorship, we must ask ourselves how much underhand censorship is taking place, just due to lack of reporting.

  • Comment number 67.

    Dear Mark,

    Imagine if the Chinese organisers of the 2008 Olympics had tried to impose this restriction. "Censorship" of the worst kind I can hear John Humphries bombastically proclaiming…

    However, the Today programme’s independent and fearless team of journalists/producers has spinelessly turned into the latest victim of Olympics Marketing fascism. They have agreed to the News being jammed – surely a perfect example of spineless self-censorship? The type that the BBC regularly "exposes" in China.

    Please take this up with the Director General and get a proper explanation of why the BBC agreed to allow the blocking of News broadcasts for commercial reasons. And please give us a proper answer rather than the trite comments above.

  • Comment number 68.

    Totally in agreement with these comments. The manner of imposing this blackout and news censorship, and that constantly and mindlessly repeated message just shows the contempt the BBC has for loyal listeners and the world at large. Can anyone at the BBC give us an apology and an explanation that could be seen as believable?

  • Comment number 69.

    I understand that sporting events have rights restrictions attached to them. But it's outrageous that the BBC would accept limits on its JOURNALISM. We're not talking about journalists describing athletic action, but merely reporting from Olympic venues. I can't believe you would accept such unbelievable restrictions.

  • Comment number 70.

    And it's still going on. Look at what the Roger Mosey BBC supremo for the Olympics says on Twitter:

    Roger Mosey ‏@rogermosey
    Our interactive team say for the 1st time we've live sport on all 24 BBC Olympic Channels. On Sky, Virgin, Freesat & online. #BBC2012

    Well Hey-Ho, he's claiming all the bragging rights there then ... but down here in the real world he is still censoring BBC Radio 4 News. But of course, he doesn't mention that.

  • Comment number 71.

    Completely agree with the views of all the above. I am horrified that the BBC has caved to this sort of nonsense. Interesting that there have so far been only 68 complaints - I had expected to see a lot more! I will, of course, find a way around it using a proxy server. As with all restrictions that try to stifle the distribution of information, "the more you tighten your grip, the more it slips through you fingers".
    These Olympics will go down as the time when the BBC finally bowed down to Corporate infringement on Freedom of speech.
    Oh, and one last thing - CHANGE the ANNOUNCEMENT to something more soothing (and explanatory). The current one is insulting and inflammatory!

  • Comment number 72.

    I initially thought this was a joke! I'm so saddened, for years the BBC has been the voice of independent reason and now like everyone else money rules.

  • Comment number 73.

    As a British expat working in Europe, I am flabberghasted and extremely upset to be deprived of BBC4 news and current affairs content for the duration of the Olympics. Accept this as the strongest possible complaint against your actions. The reputation of the BBC is shattered, laying at the feet of a grossly inflated Olympic corporate self-entitlement. The feebleness of the BBC when faced with corporate special-interests of the kind corrupting our politicians, police and judiciary, is a disgrace.

    BBC you are a joke. You have insulted many of us by your actions. Never again will you be trusted.

  • Comment number 74.

    Saturday Review with Tom Stucliffe , the arts review programme on radio 4 is also not available today (saturday 28th July) to overseas listeners due to Olympics content. How ridiculous.
    This comes after I have just seen a long list of criticism of the coverage of the Olympic cycle race today. Outside contractors apparantly . Result: a cycle race with almost no data on the time intervals between the peloton and the leading pack. Useless for time dependent race . One blogger says this is all part of the former BBC director's (Thompson) legacy of privatising the BBC subdepartments.
    he ship is letting in water it seems.

  • Comment number 75.

    The key words in the statement are "usually because of sports rights." which could be paraphrased as the triumph of commercial rights over any other interest. I am really dismayed to see another institution appear to "cave" to the higher rights of commercial powers. Why doesn't the BBC allow overseas supporters to have a license - it's not that I want to pay but I'd rather that than have big business dictate where I get my news.

  • Comment number 76.

    During the Olympics why can't the BBC broadcast the news as normal from the studio and then go over to the Olympic site. If what is going on at six O'clock in the morning is so secret that the world cant hear it so be it but the news covers more than sport, infact don't put olympic sport news in the main bulletins at all, leave it to be included inthe body of the programme. People need to know what is happening in the world be it war , bankers or flying ants

  • Comment number 77.

    Has someone at BBC taken a big backhander to create this madness?
    Here I am, a british subject, having my RIGHT to listen to radio 4 news in english RESTRICTED to zero; and by whom? Why, the BBC! tr

  • Comment number 78.

    Here I am, another British subject, having my RIGHT to listen to BBC news in English RESTRICTED: And by whom? Why, the BBC! Almost unbelievably, these RESTRICTIONS also apply to the World Service. Yes, the WORLD SERVICE! The full Kafka-esque enormity of the situation is slowly sinking in. If it is sponsors who demaded this, let them explain their reasons. If it is the Olympics organisers who demanded this, let them explain their reasons. If it is the BBC who agreed to this , let the person responsible come forward and explain their reasons. Meanwhile, I plead with whoever is running the show at the BBC to bang heads together and end this ridiculous situation forthwith. Otherwise I regret your new motto will have to be "Nation shall speak not to Nation"

  • Comment number 79.

    It's quite clear from the lack of response that the BBC are keeping their heads down about this and have no intention of changing course. OFCOM is the broadcast regulator and I understand that they would be interested in your comments about this. You can contact them here: https://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/tell-us/ If nothing else, this should help to get someone at the BBC out of their bunker!

  • Comment number 80.

    Please join if you are angry: https://www.facebook.com/groups/378019132265972/

  • Comment number 81.

    One commenter on this blog used the word jamming. That's perfect, it has all the right evil connotations.

    Just maybe it is cock-up rather than conspiracy. Perhaps the news programmes have decamped into the Olympic park media centre while their home studios get redecorated - something trivial like that.

    Whatever; we have the whole of Sunday for a brain cell to emerge and trip over a solution to this news blackout. It cannot be rocket science - nobody is suggesting you should broadcast live sporting events without the geoblock, many people have pointed out that radio is not a visual medium, so no UK listener gives a flying fig about whether the newsreader is in the Olympic park or in Salford.

    Please sort this out by Monday, otherwise you will look completely incompetent.

  • Comment number 82.

    Now the Games have begun, income for the various Olympics organising committees now comes principally from four sources: Broadcast rights (47%); Sponsorships (45%); Ticketing (5%) and Licensing (3%). The broadcast rights are the reason BBC Radio 4 - and other international broadcast organisations - have limited permission to relay their broadcasts overseas. Check out www.allens.com.au/pubs/cmt/fotmt26jul12, click on news access rules. It's all sewn up.

  • Comment number 83.

    Experienced the mechanical voice just before I departed on holiday and put it down to a temporary fault! So horrified to read on my return, to Prague, (where I am working for a while), that this IS a fault but nothing to do with technology My Czech friends, who know all about radio censorship, cannot believe that the 'independent' BBC could agree to this restriction. Listening to the media reports on the games (yes at the moment it is not jammed) makes me sad that people all over the world cannot enjoy the atmosphere by 'being' at the Olympic venue, at least over the air! And yes, lose the voice; it is unprofessional and very, very sinister!

  • Comment number 84.

    It is bitterly disappointing and incomprehensible that the restrictions were not spelt out in advance. I have always valued and respected the BBC and in recent times have defended it hotly from its detractors. To treat listeners in such a cavalier manner is wreckless. The BBC has always been a matter of great pride and pleasure, and this is like watching a train crash.

  • Comment number 85.

    So we now have a 'update' stating -"After discussion, the IOC and the BBC have agreed that there is no need to block our international streams of Radio 4 programmes with a wide news agenda." So an admission that an error was made, but by who ? As said so many times above, this was always going to be badly received, surely somebody in the BBC could have foreseen this ?

    So thanks for restoring the service but why on earth such a stupid decision ever taken ? Why was there no advance warning & why was the message so abrupt & awful - if it had to be done surely a short message (in a pleasant, non aggressive tone) explaining the problem repeated at intervals with some music in between ?

    Although I doubt we'll ever get any explanation, even less an apology

  • Comment number 86.

    Please see the update at the top of this blog post (29 July).
    After discussion, the IOC and the BBC have agreed that there is no need to block our international streams of Radio 4 programmes with a wide news agenda. Radio 5 Live (apart from the news programme Up All Night) and 5 Live Olympics Extra will remain available only in the UK. The Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Radio 2 will also now be available internationally. Radio 5 Live Sports Extra coverage of non Olympic Sports will be available as normal.

  • Comment number 87.

    The "annoying" voice for this message was Alan Smith, one of the BBC Radio 4 continuity announcers... He recorded this message several years ago as it is certainly not the first time I've heard it!

  • Comment number 88.

    Thanks for the update today Mr Friend.

    A little more explanation of how this ridiculous situation was allowed to occur would have been good. Given the comments by Mark Damazer in the Guardian, I suspect this is less an institutional issue and more the case that someone with seriously defective judgement and/or a complete disregard for the listener has somehow managed to turn what should have been a positive event into a shambles. Lessons from this need to be drawn for the future.

    An apology would also have been appropriate, don't you think? But then perhaps you're the someone noted above, so the terse and unapologetic update may be entirely in line with the behaviour that led to this entire disastrous episode. Not well done, I'm afraid.

  • Comment number 89.

    Well done, everyone. At least we've rattled a few cages and a sensible decision has been made. However, the original decision to restrict news broadcasts worldwide via the internet was idiotic and poorly thought out and whoever made it would benefit from a P45.

  • Comment number 90.

    Why on earth did the BBC decided to move the broadcasting of all its flagship news/current affairs programmes to the Olympic site. Had Today, The World at One, PM and The World Tonight still been broadcast from a BBC premises, they would still be available on line to those who live abroad or who are abroad on holiday and given that they are supposed to be news programmes and not sport/Olympic programmes this would have been a sensible approach; but no the BBC wanted to be quirky. In my opinion they have wasted a lot of license payer's money and frankly it is not within the BBC's remit to help fund the Olympics just for the novelty of broadcasting from the Olympic venue. Furthermore they have angered a lot of regular listeners. Shame on the cretins who agreed to this.

  • Comment number 91.

    Thankyou for restoring my faith in good sense.

    I'd love to hear just who (from the BBC) managed to negotiate this rational outcome - they deserve at the very least a complimentary e-mail, if not a gold medal!

  • Comment number 92.

    Thanks for the good newsabout the news, but can you now tell me why the local radio stations are blacked out. Especially the ones that play the "golden oldies" and have nothing to do with sport.

  • Comment number 93.

    Okay, it's time to welcome today's (29th July) update. Almost certainly, most of the people posting here complained only because they love the BBC and its output, and resented the latter's interruption.

    From my point of view, I only objected because of an obvious and understandable cock-up. One set of managers signed a deal that excluded from international (including online) distribution all content that emanated from the Olympic park. Another set of managers decided to broadcast many news and current affairs programmes from the Olympic park.

    It's unlikely that either of those sets of managers meant to screw either ex-pats, or licence payers who are currently on holiday. It was a cock-up, not a conspiracy.

    Now, yet another set of mangers has heard us, and obtained a waiver from the IOC that allows us to hear the BBC output that we most want to hear.

    It's worth remembering that it took only about 48 hours for the BBC, which is too often accused of being highly bureaucratic, to gain agreement from the International Olympics Committee IOC), which is, perhaps, yet more frequently accused of being even more bureaucratic, to reach an agreement that suits us all.

    Thank you very much to all those BBC and IOC bureaucrats who worked over the weekend to help us out, and to restore our service. Your efforts really are very much appreciated.

    And no, I have never had any connection whatsoever either with the BBC or the IOC. I just like it when people of goodwill come together to reach a conclusion that helps you and me.

  • Comment number 94.

    That the BBC blocked international listeners from access to the Today programme, a general news and current affairs programme, on both 27th and 28th July is an absolute disgrace. Even Saturday Review was blocked presumably because Tom Sutcliffe and guests discussed the Olympics opening ceremony. This is complete madness.

  • Comment number 95.

    I was the first to post a comment on this page last Friday when it became clear what was happening.

    The latest update is obviously welcome and I thank you for that. Some of us have expended far too much energy trying to get an obvious wrong put right. The BBC have now put it right and I hope learned whatever lessons are to be learned. They are to be commended for that. Let's all now get on and enjoy the Olympics and all of Radio 4.

  • Comment number 96.

    I commend the BBC for the speed with which they have responded to listener outrage at the black-out. It goes a long way to restore faith but the whole affair leaves a foul taste in the mouth.

    The question of how prior to the censorship the opinions of the heavy weight staffers at Today and PM were ignored remains pertinent because there is clearly a higher authority at work in the BBC that regards news and analysis as marginal to the issue of commercial rights holders.

    The BBC management has dirt on their hands, they have been shown to be vulnerable to cash interests, how in the future are we to judge news analysis as free from special-interests lobbyists if such a black-out is possible in the first instance?

    Over the years I have learned deep respect for the journalist staffers, today I have sympathy for the way they have been betrayed by the management. I expect we will hear the back story Monday morning on the Today programme. An incompetent gaff or an indication of Murdoch style management practises at the beeb? Whatever happened it will not be possible to laugh it off.

  • Comment number 97.

    At first, I regarded the Olympics as an entertaining farce. Then it dawned on me that successive supine British governments had been hypnotised into signing away any rights their governed might have had in the face of the overweening arrogance of the I.O.C. Next I was dismayed to find that the BBC had fallen victim to a censorship of which Dr. Goebbels would have been proud. A humiliating day for a Britain bamboozled by a miasma of half-truths and obfuscation.

  • Comment number 98.

    Saturday Review was blocked; Thinking Aloud was "edited." The former for a discussion of the opening ceremony?? The latter for a discussion of Olympic security??? This is truly Orwellian. What possible justification is there for preventing dissemination of *discussion* of aspects of the Olympics which do not deal with the athletic events? The BBC has truly sold out. The image of London, and Britain, may have been lifted by these games, but the image of the British Broadcasting Association lies in the muck.

  • Comment number 99.

    Common sense prevails-we who live abroad can now listen to our regular news programmes throughout the next 3 weeks as normal without the annoyingly repetitive "Due to rights restrictions this part of the programme is unavailable" "Due to rights restrictions this part of the programme is unavailable" "Due to rights restrictions this part of the programme is unavailable" "Due to rights restrictions this part of the programme is unavailable" etc

  • Comment number 100.

    This is really crazy. I live in Ireland and normally listen on my Internet radio. However, I can listen to all the programmes without restriction on the cable TV!


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