BBC BLOGS - The Editors
« Previous | Main | Next »

Changes to international pages

Post categories:

Steve Herrmann Steve Herrmann | 17:35 UK time, Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Across the BBC website we are making a change to the way we present content for audiences inside and outside the UK.

Up to now, people outside the UK who visited the website could select a UK version and those within the UK could select an international version of the site.

A radio button in the "set location" section at the top of the BBC homepage and on the left hand side of News and Sport pages allowed you to switch between versions.

From now on this won't be the case. The button is going, so if you are inside the UK you will simply see the UK version, outside the UK you'll see the international version.

But - and I'm resorting to italics here to stress this - all the same content will be available as now so you'll still be able to get both UK and international news wherever you are.

The UK front page of the News site will still have international stories amongst the headlines of the day, and of course the usual links to all the world sections of the site.

The international version will have links to all the UK sections, along with a new, expanded area for UK headlines. We're not taking away any of the content you can already see. You'll still be able to get to popular indexes like England, Scotland and Magazine by following the UK link on the section navigation at the left of the front page.

Screengrab of new UK News box

Here's how the change will affect the main BBC homepage - my colleague Ian Hunter explains:

"The new customisable BBC homepage at and launched in February 2008. It was significantly different from the previous version and gave users the ability to shape content on the page to suit their personal interests. With this in place, there was less need to offer fixed editorial versions.
"The only significant exception is the main feature of the homepage (which differs between the UK and the rest of the world). Anyone abroad investing a few moments customising their homepage can set up a 'UK-flavoured' international page for themselves - not to mention one aligned more with their personal tastes and interests. Do you want the latest tennis results? Technology news? Great - we can do that too."

So why bother with the change? Because the option allowing you to choose "site versions" (which relatively few of you actually chose to use) has started to lead to some potentially frustrating experiences for you, as well as some significant technical complications for us.

One of the reasons for this is the growth in the amount of video and audio around the site which, with the "versions" set-up we've had in place so far, has led to a growing number of potentially confusing results.

For example, international users selecting the UK version might follow prominent links from front pages only to find messages saying things like: "Currently BBC iPlayer TV programmes are available to play in the UK only". (The BBC doesn't have the legal rights to show content on the iPlayer abroad though that may change in future).

Other content too may only be available to some audiences, for rights and legal reasons. Some sports coverage on the BBC, for example, is restricted to the UK, whilst the BBC World News TV channel is produced for international audiences.

The change also means that the advertising which you can see on our pages if you are outside the UK can be integrated around our pages without the need to change page formats for the UK version of the site.

We hope the change we're about to make will mean things are simpler all round. Front pages will be optimised for wherever you are, and content throughout the site should be simpler for us to produce and easier for you to find your way around.

UPDATE, 18:07, 11 June: Thanks for all your comments. Here are some responses to the main points you've been making:

Several of you mention customising pages - don't forget this only applies to the BBC Homepage where customisation has been an option for some time already. You can find out more about making changes to the BBC homepage here.

The News and Sport front pages aren't customisable in this way. But a simple way to get straight to the content you want (other than following the "UK" and "World" links on the left side of the page) would be to bookmark the page you want to visit most often - whether that is UK news, world news or another section of the site.

There is also now a dedicated UK headlines section on the international-facing News front page, so those of you looking for UK headlines from the front page internationally will see them there.

And, to repeat what I said in my original post, all the same content will be available as now so you'll still be able to get both UK and international news wherever you are.

For those of you with your internet access routed through a non-UK server (for example if you're in the UK and work for a company based overseas) you might look to our servers as though you are an international user, so you will see the international versions of pages. We recognise this may not be your preferred version, but there's the new UK headline section on the front page of the international version, as well as the link to UK news.

Some of you are saying you are viewing the website from within the UK on a UK connection and you can still see the international edition, in which case please use this form to let us know.

We really do need to make these changes to allow the site to work better, so we will try our best to work through and resolve the issues you are raising. Thanks again for the feedback, it is appreciated.

UPDATE, 17:29, 12 June: My colleague John O'Donovan has written about the recent (now resolved) issues affecting video/audio playback, the ticker and the picture galleries. You can read more and comment at the BBC Internet Blog.

UPDATE, 11:04, 13 June: Some users in the UK are seeing the international edition due to the way their internet provider connects them to the web. We are working closely with those companies on a solution to correctly identify which of their subscribers are in the UK and to serve them the correct edition.

More on customisation: some of you who have been using the ability to customise news, weather and sport by postcode from the UK front page will have lost that if you are outside the UK. Ideally, we would not have taken that away, it's just that it wasn't possible to maintain it and still carry out the changes we had to make. It was used by a relatively small number of you, but if you were one of them - I'm sorry, and please bear with us while we work on developing the site. We'll be looking at how to make the site customisable in other ways as part of that work.

UPDATE, 15:17, 15 June: There's a new post on the changes here.

UPDATE, 15:57, 19 June: The active post with open comments on the changes is now here.

Steve Herrmann is editor of the BBC News website.


Page 1 of 7

  • Comment number 1.

    Hmmm.... First step to charging for the website ??

  • Comment number 2.

    Or making the 'BBC UK Website' only available to TV Licence Payers, in breach of agreements ?

  • Comment number 3.

    Makes sense to me. Simplifying user experience and reducing those complications for you - which in turn opens up what you can offer us. Seems fair enough.

    I'm sure the swivel-eyed "it's an outrage" brigade (and the "I smells a left wing conspiracy" lot) will beg to differ though.

  • Comment number 4.

    This is all well and good. Unfortunately I work for a very large international company and depending on the load on our internal network I can "pop out" onto the internet either from a gateway in the UK or from one in Germany.

    This means I will sometime get the UK pages and sometimes the non-UK pages and whether I get other content will be a very hit and miss affair

  • Comment number 5.

    Disappointing - was very useful when at a PC in airport lounge or hotel abroad I could immediately get to "top news from a UK perspective" - now will have to click through the links to get a more domestic perspective. Just a loss of convenience for those situations.

  • Comment number 6.

    I am a (Scottish) British citizen living outside the UK. I virtually never visit the BBC homepage (nor do I have any interest in customizing it), and instead always go directly to

    I like seeing 'Scotland' as a first-tier menu item on the left-hand side and will be very disappointed if, as I understand it, I will now always have to go via the UK section to access Scottish stories.

    In addition, I actually tend to use when I want an international focus on stories, and I specifically visit the BBC News site when I want a more UK-oriented perspective on the important issues of the day. I guess there are many British expats and former UK residents in the same boat as me (and this number is only likely to go up as the world becomes increasingly globalized), so this decision seems to me to be a clear backward step.

    On another topic, whilst you say that you don't have the legal rights to show content on iPlayer abroad, this seems to me to be a bit of a sweeping generalization. I can't believe that there are any restrictions on, for example, your live broadcasting globally of FMQs at Holyrood or PMQs at Westminster, yet it appears that you refuse to make any live content (except streams of BBC World News) available from outside the UK.

  • Comment number 7.

    Quite disappointing, I like the ability to switch between versions, so I can read the news as if I was back home. I wish, wish, wish, the bbc could sort out these stupid licensing problems so that people abroad like me could pay to view all the same content and the iplayer as if in the UK. I'm sure enough people would be willing to pay and it would bring in more revenue than the Google Adsense.

  • Comment number 8.

    Actually, the more I think about this, the more wrong it seems. Unfortunately.

    Geolocation is all well and good when it is required to meet content rights requirements or other legal obligations. However, that is really all it should be used for, particularly in the case of a public service organization like the BBC.

    The above change seems to have nothing to do with content rights, or the BBC Charter, or any other legal issue, but is simply being made for technical convenience.

    Is technical convenience really a good enough reason to cripple the site's functionality for a not-insignificant proportion of your user base - some of whom, as GreySquirrelMeister mentioned, are actually in the UK but accessing BBC News through a global company's non-UK addressed-network?

  • Comment number 9.

    You broadcast to Ireland for free. The Irish do not pay your licence fee.

    I am English. I pay the fee. But I spend a lot of time abroad.

    Now I cant see various items and broadcasts. And I can only see the Internationl version of your site.

    Tell you what - I'll stop paying my licence fee and you can treat me as if I were Irish.


  • Comment number 10.

    I too, never visit the front page. For news I got to, and for radio 4 I go directly to /radio4. I am not interested in iPlayer content (I do wish you would use less video and more text) - even when I lived in the UK, I did not watch television - so that argument simply does not apply to me.

    I do wish you would make it possible for ex-pats to pay to access all the content available to UK based users. For those who want iPlayer video, charge them the licence fee, and for those of us who merely want Radio 4, a smaller fee.

  • Comment number 11.

    The BBC needs to make much greater efforts in recouping revenue from non-UK based BBC website users.

    You need to be charging those outside the UK for access to the BBC site, so that we can hopefully keep licence fee costs down for those of us at home.

    An alternative to charging is to have advertising for those using the international version.

  • Comment number 12.

    " well as some significant technical [and legal] complications for us."


  • Comment number 13.

    This change is not helpful. It reduces choice. Why do you assume everyone accessing the BBC home page from within the UK wants the UK pages and all of us abroad the international version? That's a determination that's really not for you to make or that you even need to make on behalf of your readers, given that you have demonstrated the technical capabilities that allow us to make choices about what we want to see. Please think again. This is not a sensible decision, but one that typecasts your readership based solely on their location.

  • Comment number 14.

    This is really bad news.

    I work in a large company in London and my internet connection is routed via Germany. This means I will get the 'international' version by default.

    It's bad enough having to watch a 30 second advert before being able to view a news video, and seeing dubious google ads at the bottom of every page. And now I can't keep my preference for UK news.

    I'm starting to wonder if there's no part of your site you wont sell adverts on?

    Please reconsider this daft decision.

  • Comment number 15.

    Bloofs, there are already adverts on the BBC International site. Just like there are adverts on BBC channels broadcast abroad.

    Don't worry, you're not paying for the wonderful job that the BBC does of being an ambassador for the UK.

  • Comment number 16.

    Bloofs, there is advertising for non UK users of the site. A short before video, some flash animations, and in the last couple of days Google ads have appeared. We don't have access to anything that the BBC licenses from other people (e.g. radio or TV drama, music archives, anything on iPlayer).

    Effectively I get less now then I did when I lived in the UK, plus adverts. But as a non TV viewer, I paid no license fee then either. So in fact, I am contributing _more_ to the BBC (by having the advertising) than I did then, when I had full access to the website AND the radio broadcasts.

    But as I say, I would happily subscribe to have an advert free site and full access to Radio 4. The TV you can keep.

  • Comment number 17.

    Can I please add my voice to those asking for this decision to be reconsidered, for two reasons:

    1. I like being able to see the news from an international perspective, which tends to filter out domestic politics news (which I get elsewhere) and a lot of entertainment and other trivial news that doesn't interest me. I would largely cease using the BBC News website if I cannot get the news that interests me aggregated in a useful manner; being able to call up each section in turn is not an acceptable substitute, as it takes far longer and gives me no easy way to see if something new and important (in the wider world, rather than parochially) has happened.

    2. Certain networks route internet traffic through other countries, or at least appear to do so. The fixed preference for the site scheme overcomes the problems caused by geolocation errors in this way.

  • Comment number 18.

    No, no, PLEASE don't do this. Every day I make sure my site is set to U.K. There is a *big* difference in the presentation. If I can't get to the British version, I have just lost much of my reason for using the BBC at all.

    And if I am willing to deal with items "not available outside the U.K." why do you care about it?

  • Comment number 19.

    Dreadful decision, please reconsider

    Some of us who happen to work outside the UK are prefer to use the UK version of the website.
    The present set-up has worked for years, why change it?

  • Comment number 20.

    srtgray, to be honest I don't think international users should get any content *at all* from the BBC website unless they make some financial contribution. Sorry, but that's my view.

    Yes it's true that if you have no TV in the UK you can still listen to the BBC radio and use the BBC site for 'free' (although there was once a radio licence back in the day) - and I agree this seems strange. This is why the licence-fee is an outmoded system. I personally would fund the BBC from taxation, but that's a whole other argument we're getting into.

    The BBC is supposed to provide a public service for the UK, so even if you only listen to radio and use the website, we TV watchers can easily subsidise you to do that. I don't think we should subsidise people outside the UK to use the website though. While advertising to internationals is better than nothing, I would opt for a subscription fee, as this seems more in keeping with the BBC ethos anyway, although there are technical issues I suppose.

    However we could always cut the salaries of people like J Ross and use the money to create a dedicated World Service website..... or is that too crazy an idea to consider?

  • Comment number 21.

    AlienLegal - glad to hear I'm not paying for the BBC to be an ambassador, thanks!

  • Comment number 22.

    Like so many others I do wish that you'd reconsider this. I'm primarily based in the UK, but every now and then I do like to be able to flick to 'International Version' to get a quick digest of the major international news events. I do not want to have to trawl through each individual area as it'll take far far longer.

    Then there are times when I'm out of the country, sometimes for a month or two, and I like to be able to use the 'UK Version' since I'm only gone temporarily and news 'back home' is still important to me. I don't want to have to read an entirely UK only page and a separate international page, I want access to a mix of both.

    From the sound of it I could theoreticaly set up the homepage (which I only ever visit by accident; if I want news, Radio 1 or iplayer then I go there directly) to vaguelly filter my news, but a filter is too inflexible. I want your judgement of when an international/technology/health/entertainment/etc news item merits being put on the News front page, not a pre-selected option that means I'll never see another entertainment story again. Sometimes they will interest me.

    It might be a bit of hassle with the video streams, but that's a minor irritation that I would happily put up with (though I'm sure it can't be too hard to get around, I can think of a number of possible fixes myself). Often-times they do work, and if they don't it's not a big deal as long as the articles are still there (since they're why I come to the website, the videos are just added frippery). If the arguement is that the change won't affect many people, then it just works against you, since the 'technical issues' won't be affecting many people either, probably mainly ex-pats or people on holiday, who would understand why the content was unavailable.

  • Comment number 23.

    As with many other 'commentors', when I'm abroad I like to be able to select the UK version of the site so that it appears as it does when I'm in the UK. I don't want to have to spend time customising it to look like the UK version. I've also worked in companies whose internet connection is routed through Europe so the ability to select the UK version was very useful then.

    Please reconsider?

  • Comment number 24.

    This is a terrible idea. I pay a licence in the UK but I often have to go abroad and suddenly I am not entitled to see the content because my computer shows that I am abroad. When I saw this blog I hoped that the BBC had finally figured out a way to give licence payers access to the full BBC site. Instead the BBC has figured out a way to give us less access. This is truly crap and a big disappointment. Who do you think reads the bbc news pages more than Brits abroad???? No really, who is your target market? This is really bad news and a truly rubbish development. Thanks for nothing BBC

  • Comment number 25.

    A lot more palatable if it were clear HOW to do the following:

    "Anyone abroad investing a few moments customising their homepage can set up a 'UK-flavoured' international page for themselves - not to mention one aligned more with their personal tastes and interests."

  • Comment number 26.

    While you're at it, PLEASE, oh please make outside links open in a new browser page. It's so irritating to click on a link and then lose the BBC page you were on because the link you have opened turns out to be interesting.

  • Comment number 27.

    I like and occasionally use the option to look at the international version. It helps me to understand the bias in UK interests and see if we're missing anything completely.

    If "all the same content will be available as now" it's difficult to see how the "frustrating experiences and technical difficulties" will be eliminated. If this is not a credible motivation we need to look for another.

    Chinese censorship is crude; achieved by denial of access. The British always were more subtle. It's enough to bury an undesirable item at the foot of page 9, say, or mis-spell or otherwise mangle the link, or simply to release the item at the same time as more exciting news appears.[been there, tried that]

    I hope such editorial censorship won't occur, even by accident, because it would damage the BBC at home and ultimately would be counterproductive - there are other news services and there's nothing like a secret to attract the media!

    Bring back the button.

  • Comment number 28.

    Please don't do this. I rely on BBC news as one of my world news sources, along with CNN, and the International Herald Tribune (New York Times), both of which have local and international versions of their websites. I am from abroad but spend quite a lot of time in the UK. While I am here I do not want predominantly UK news just because I am here at the time, I want the same international news that I get from anywhere in the world. A change in my location doesn't change my taste in the news I read. Removing this feature takes away a basic choice for millions around the world that rely on your website to know what's happening in the world.

  • Comment number 29.

    As an expat I rely on the BBC news to keep me updated with both home news and international news (I live in the US and we all understand how bad the international coverage is here). I would prefer the option to switch between home and international sites still please.

  • Comment number 30.

    29 comments so far, and 100% against the new scheme.
    As an IT professional, I have to agree that customization of the site based on source IP address is a bad idea. As a reader of the site, I have to agree that I prefer the ability to choose International or UK versions. I too only visit the BBC home page by accident, and find it very frustrating trying to find my way back to the '' site.
    I would much prefer if the BBC would concentrate on getting the new "features" of the website right before making more changes. Get rid of the new "map-based articles" applet, which doesn't work right in my browser (I use prism/webrunner). And bring back the old "in pictures" format! It boggles my mind that whoever developed the new version thought it would be a good idea to superimpose the captions over the picture. Now I have the choice to read the caption OR to see the whole picture. Why on earth was this done? There is plenty of vertical space! Bad enough that there are now mystery meat picture navigation buttons, or that the pictures wrap around instead of ending, as they should.
    Failing that, please spend your money on improving the quality of the reporting, which I feel has been dropping in recent months. Stop trying to use every latest fad technology, and get back to the business of honest, objective and factual news reporting.

  • Comment number 31.

    This is a bad idea.

  • Comment number 32.

    This is not a good idea at all. Rather than saying "resticted to the UK" visa-a-vie Football Commentary (something we always had on the Radio World Service 30+ years ago and is now restricted), you choose to not even tell us it is there! This is double descrimination and restriction. After living outside the UK for 34 years I still really on the BBC for a massive part of my news and information, global news and Football, do not start to cut us off. Please!

  • Comment number 33.

    A really lousy proposal on your part. As an exp-pat in the US, I have had this site set as my home page for years, precisely because I wanted the news with a UK slant. If I'd wanted a non-UK perspective, I'd have set it to CNN.

  • Comment number 34.

    I live in Shanghai and an easier way to set the homepage weather forecast to the locality would be good. I am interested in having a frontpage with local Shanghai weather but also local news from back home.

  • Comment number 35.

    This makes me angry. You're trying to subvert the Internet. You shouldn't be making assumptions based on the source IP address of the client - if I'm reading your site from a shell account in Detroit, that does not mean I'm not in the UK. What next, a special version for people with IPs you _think_ are in China? Bans on accesses from http proxies in order to stop people using web-anonymisers? Please just stop it, or start your own version of the Internet based on whatever principles you think it should work by, if you don't like the principles the Internet has worked on up to now.

    Only a few people actually exercise their right to free speech, does that mean it's ok for the Government to take it away, and such a change won't have any impact on society?

  • Comment number 36.

    So the BBC has a remit to broadcast the UK's perspective globally through the world service.

    It also let's UK viewers that don't pay a TV license watch iPlayer.

    However when it comes to ex-pats who just want to see a site with a UK bias as they wish to stay informed about events back home, it is now too complicated.

    Give us all a break!

  • Comment number 37.

    It's a conspiracy. You want to charge us! Or subvert us! Or make us customise our homepage! Or make us navigate further (the small minority of us, well not me, but those who do)! Or control the internet! Or just do it for the seemingly sensible and straight forward reasons given (!)

  • Comment number 38.

    ... "The change also means that the advertising which you can see on our pages if you are outside the UK can be integrated around our pages without the need to change page formats for the UK version of the site" ....

    Which we can see on your pages eh? What makes you think we want to see advertising in the first place? Do we have a choice? I complained bitterly when it first started to appear in small doses and was fobbed off with meaningless drivel. I fear the worst for the BBC when hype stories like this emerge.

    Carry on at your peril editors, for you will surely lose your "international" followers on this point alone.

    Could do much better with a little more application, 4/10

  • Comment number 39.

    Typical BBC Arrogance towards many faithful expats who want to keep in touch with home and what is happening there. Personally I don't care about being able to watch TV shows or some other content. I can use the BBC iPlayer to listen to Radio 4 or 5live. However, I do like to see the UK Content upfront when I sign in and be able to go to the UK Sites that I like. If I am travelling and visit an internet cafe, I get annoyed when I get the International version because I'm not seeing what I want to see. Keep something that is good and lets not have to click all over the place to see what we want to see. I don't suppose this comment will be treated seriously or read by the "Editors"

  • Comment number 40.

    The only problem with removing the button is that sometimes I like the English version because it includes the education section which isn't available on the international website. As a Yank, it seems funny to me that you would have two websites, one for the English and one for the rest of us heathens. It reminds me of a scene in Mary Poppins when George Banks explains to his boss that the tea (thrown overboard during the Boston Tea Party) was unsuitable, EVEN for the Americans!

  • Comment number 41.

    I am posting from Canada and I love reading BBC News. However I do not like the proposed changes. I primarily visit the BBC News website to get UK news and British perspectives. Although BBC has good international coverage, I mostly use Canadian websites to get world news. I set the BBC news site to the 'UK' version because I want to see what the important stories in Britain are (both local and international). I realize the same content will only be a couple of clicks away, but for a quick overview of the big headlines etc and to see what news events are important in Britain, it will be easier to just go to the Guardian or another paper's site.

  • Comment number 42.

    Another expat chiming in here to say that I vastly prefer being able to read the UK version of the site and that you shouldn't be making these kinds of choices for your readers. The argument that all the same content will be available is somewhat bogus because you know perfectly well that reading the news is as much about seeing what editorial/presentation decisions have been made about individual stories as it is about the content of any given story.

    I come to the BBC news site because I want to see what the editors think the news agenda, top story etc. is in the UK on any given day. I want to see the editorial decisions that weigh domestic and international news against each other from a UK perspective. If that's obscured or no longer available then there's very little reason for me to come here over other news outlets.

    I get the technological problems. They seem to be a symptom of the wider problem that the BBC still hasn't figured out how to deal appropriately with international demand for its output. I know that BBC News may not have a lot of control over this bigger licensing issue, but putting readers into the International Version ghetto on the basis of IP address is still disappointing.

  • Comment number 43.

    Pointing out the obvious.

    Why not:

    1) - gives the UK version.
    2) - gives the international version.

    Regardless of apparent visitor physical location...

    Adverts can be run with flawed IP geo-location technology as is - and the tech savvy will continue to block them as is.

  • Comment number 44.

    You wouldn't use the colour of my skin to discriminate against me based on my probable country, so what makes it OK to discriminate against me based on another superficial attribute indicating my country - my IP address?

  • Comment number 45.

    Good to see bbc surveys are actually read by someone!! As an international user I was getting frustrated constantly being told I was not allowed to view content, hopefully this will now be rectified!

  • Comment number 46.

    very unhappy with this change. . . . it's totally uk- london-centric. . .
    i'm living abroad and value being able to have the UK-version, so i can share the information and experiences of friends and relatives in the Uk. . . .
    i have plenty of other ways to get international news if and when i wish. .
    also, my internet connection is a bit slow so i very rarely watch video or listen to audio . . . i want quick, accessible written stories and that (more or less) is what you've been providing. . .
    this is certainly a huge step backwards for me. . . . .
    tudor from Aqaba in Jordan

  • Comment number 47.

    Whingeing British Expats - return to the UK if you want a diet of parochial politics and the antics of Brit celebs.

  • Comment number 48.

    As I'm abroad, I realise I'm probably a minority, but I wonder does this mean I won't be seeing everything? You say that those abroad may currently navigate to pages where we can't access the content - I really don't mind because short of an actual iplayer video I can still read the story/transcript, listen to clips

  • Comment number 49.

    I pay a licence fee.
    I am often abroad.
    Your Geolocation approach prevents me from accessing content I have paid for.
    I am not offered a discount.
    This is content you are apparently offering for free to the Irish.

    Sort it OUT! This issue is around too long with no result. Just have to admit you got it wrong when using geolocation to exclude people.

    Don't start fiddling with the website till you have got you act together.

  • Comment number 50.

    This is a really terrible idea, most likely cooked up by a bunch of BBC managers who all probably live within half a mile of White City. I have a house in the UK, I pay council tax on it and a TV licence too, even though I'm barely there to justify it as I work in Geneva during the week. It's bad enough that you can't give me WHAT I PAY FOR whenever/wherever/however I want it but now you're going to make it miles more difficult for me. I suppose you'll justify it with some "oh but we've done some research and this is what people want". What a load of guff. The sooner the licence fee is swept away and some proper user tax (or advertising - God knows, there's enough of it on the website version I see here in Geneva) the better. You lot really are so totally out of touch. What a complete shower.

  • Comment number 51.

    I live in the UK (& pay the licence fee), but I really value the BBC news website as a source of international news. There are plenty of papers that cover UK stories, but the BBC is my favourite source for international news, and I am more interested in what is happening in other countries than the endless celebrity drivel and political bickering that UK news tends to be filled out with.
    The lack of an 'international' option will severely reduce the usefulness of the BBC news website to me.

  • Comment number 52.

    I live in UK but I work in Europe. This means from day to day I move around. Uptil now I have been able to leave my laptop set to the same settings and enjoy a bit of consistency in my life. Now you have, for no apparent reason, changed that.
    As other people have stated, it look likes the preface for a membership and charging scheme.
    This would be accepted by most people based in UK but who travel and who are also sports fans as long as the full BBC programming is available. Those of us who pay UK licence fees but who get rubbish messages about rights agreements once we cross the channel finish up in screaming frustration at the way that we are treated by the BBC, would quite happily join a "club" to be able to listen to your full output.
    Unless of course it is sheer bloody mindedness on your part or, God forbid, you are practicing good old fashioned censorship

  • Comment number 53.

    Barely a single positive comment here but I don't suppose that makes any difference to you does it?

  • Comment number 54.

    I can't blame the messenger, since this looks like something that came from corporate. However, the announcement comes across as "spin," and the change appears to me to be designed for the company's benefit, rather than for the website users. In other words, it will prove to be a major inconvenience for anyone used to the original site design. Why is it that IT people always assume different is better? In this case, it's not.

    But if it's any consolation for the disappointed fans of the original configuration, I believe in karma. In my universe, that means the BBC evildoers who are about to commit havoc in the digital universe will one day get their comeuppance. May your tires go flat, your winkies go limp and your wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, et al., dump you for someone wealthier and better-looking.

  • Comment number 55.

    Very disappointing. Hope the decision will be reconsidered!

  • Comment number 56.

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

  • Comment number 57.

    Maybe as a technologist I have different views to most other posters.
    The Midland 20: I live in Holland and get BBC 1,2 TV coverage (as well as numerous other international stations like ZDF and Canvas), but like the Irish I still pay a local license fee (which is more expensive than you pay for the TV License fee and you have better content) which also contributes to these channels being available.
    I think people are being a bit over-reactive on this, as the customisation of the web pages becomes more mature the web pages will become more intuitive to your requirements. And as always the BBC must keep moving forward to keep the site easy to use and I think this is change will be good. If you ever look at some of the archive pages, at the time you thought they were good and now you think how quaint.
    Like a lot of other people my work connection may or may not be going through the UK, but as you get use to the new way, you probably wont notice the difference.
    For those in the UK, who travel, why not either invest in a HDD or use I-Player when you get back, or you could set up your home network in a way that you can use that to see your TV live or via i-Player whilst you are travelling. It is not up to the BBC to meet all of your requirements.
    kennethmac2000: If you rarely visit the BBC website, why should your view be counted? I use this site for various reasons as an international user most days of the week, and have switched easily between the UK and International versions. Its not that difficult.

  • Comment number 58.

    I have always headed straight for the BBC news when overseas when the internet was available. This past ten months it has increasingly become unusable to all but the most determined.

    I would open each interesting headline from the news feed in a new tab, then turn to page and click a link if I saw one of interest then on to another tab while that page down loaded. All of that came to an end this year with the huge increase in advertising (the same two adverts over and over again) it is torture to get through the news.

    The international version of the BBC news has become an unusable and unreadable maze of dead ends. Almost every page has an advertisement that after waiting for it to plays.......then while you wait and wait for the news in the headline..........nothing. The video content takes over and each page is a noisy useless piece of junk. I gave up and use Google news now while abroad, but steer clear of the BBC links.

  • Comment number 59.

    How, if this change occurs, will people in or with a UK IP number access the international radio or TV pages, it's obviously not occurred to those within the BBC that many people have legitimate reasons to do this - just another example of why your 'solution' is nothing but an example of the BBC taking the easy option, whilst pigeon-holing everyone. Also, as others have said, some ISP's and international companies have IP numbers outside the UK allocation, how so you propose to give them access to their 'correct' content if the end user can't manually select it, what about holiday-makers and business travellers wanting to access their bought and paid for UK version whilst abroad and thus on a non UK IP number?

  • Comment number 60.


    The BBC must reconsider this! It seems that almost everyone who has commented dislikes the idea and the BBC should not force this change on licence payers just because giving users the current choices is inconvenient for the BBC.

    I use the current structure all the time as I want to see news in order of importance, international news first then the more mundane national stuff.

    The whole idea of the proposed changes are nonsense and run counter to the ethos of the web which is an international place. The BBC should not be erecting arbitrary national boundaries in cyberspace! Sort out the small minded licensing problems instead!

  • Comment number 61.

    I agree this is a very disappointing move. I am a UK citizen but spend a lot of time both working within and outside of the UK. Not only do I regularly switch between versions when I am outside the UK but also I often switch the the International version when I am in the UK. This is not least because I find it almost impossible to escape the bombardment of so many trivial 'home' news stories that are given priority on the UK site, above so many more important international stories. Let's get a bit of global perspective here - there are so many extreme situations happening in so many countries around us and the BBC tabloid website believes we would rather hear about a bit of politica, educational or religeous scandal from 'home', while in the mean time we can not access the information about immense situations of suffering or international concern. People in other countries are humans too, we should be told about them just as much as people from UK. The stories should be prioritised according to the seriousness of the event, not where it is!! The second reason I switch away from the UK BBC site sometimes is that the video content pieces take so long to load with their advertisements and then many of them don't even present useful, edited information. They often mean a newspiece is left with the uniformative video and very little useful text. I find text, photos and a few well presented illustrations a far more efficient and accessible way to read the news on the web - please do not replace quality news content with half-commercial un-edited videos. The videos could be an addition, but should never be a substitute for text/ photos.

  • Comment number 62.


    "i think people are being a bit over-reactive on this, as the customisation of the web pages becomes more mature the web pages will become more intuitive to your requirements."

    How does a remote IP sniffer know what MY requirements are, only I know what MY requirements are...

    "And as always the BBC must keep moving forward to keep the site easy to use"

    What a load of rubbish, many of the easiest pages to use on the internet are those that have not'moved forward' (and here I mean they still use HTML 2.0 never mind the "web 2.0" hype), OK the pages might be dull and boring to some but all the information is there and it's accessible.

    "For those in the UK, who travel, why not either invest in a HDD or use I-Player when you get back, or you could set up your home network in a way that you can use that to see your TV live or via i-Player whilst you are travelling. It is not up to the BBC to meet all of your requirements."

    Why should they, and as for the iPlayer, what if the content has expired by the time they return, what if the streaming content is topical - such as the already mentioned PMQs?

  • Comment number 63.

    Nick, be nice if there is some feed back on these comments, almost all seem to be against these changes - many giving good reason.

  • Comment number 64.

    Is this perhaps really about advertising-the last reason you mention? I'm an American living in the UK, and while I really value the BBC news as one of the better sources available, it's frustrating to only ever read news which is important to those in the UK. I use the international version here because I feel it gives me a good perspective on what's really important in the whole world. If you take away the international version option I'll be switching to CNN international or Reuters. I really hope the BBC will consider changing its mind though. I suppose if only a few of us care, it won't make a plus the majority rules our world.

  • Comment number 65.

    Well said, kennethmac2000!
    As a 62 year-old England-escapee I finally learned never to trust my fellow Englishmen. Neither do I trust the BBC (or EBC! - English Broadcasting Company!) either.
    When changes are made in this world it is NEVER for "anyone's benefit" but simply for money! The BBC had long-ago already resorted to the gutter-behaviour of advertising and geo-location allows them to further 'refine' that.
    Well, I don't need it Mr BBC and Mr England, I only use the BBC sites to confirm my expectations of the constant screwing-up that England does. England's political, legal, educational and health systems that are third-rate compared to that of any other nation. Scotland has far better professional and educational establishments and she was sensible to rid her 'dross'. Sadly, the English imported and elected it into government. What a stupid country.
    Goodbye, Mr BBC.

  • Comment number 66.

    Not very convenient for british people living overseas.

    To be honest there aren't THAT many differences between the two pages, but viewing the international page doesn't give you the same FEEL for what news is big in the UK.

    For example, viewing the international news page I'd never have known that the expenses scandal was such a big story, as it only showed up a little. But on the UK homepage it was much more prominent.

    I never use the personalised homepage, as i often access from lots of different PCs.. but for me its very useful to be able to switch between views. Sometimes i want an international view.. sometime i want to know what's going on back home.

    Not the end of the world, but disappointing...

  • Comment number 67.

    Add me to the chorus of those who do not like this change at all. I'm still a British citizen, although I haven't been back to England since the only time it won the World Cup (1966), living in the U.S. since 1960.
    The BBC Home Page is definitely something I use and see every day, since it shares my Google Chrome opening page tabs with The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC English-language).

    ¶ Note that both The Journal and The New York Times, two of the BBC's leading competitors on the Web, both offer readers a choice of using their U.S. or international editions. In fact I stick to the U.S. editions of both, but at present my BBC tab is set to UK version because that's usually what I want more detail about (e.g. Northern Ireland, the local and European elections, or some political crisis). However I also look at the international stories on the BBC because it usually has a different mix than a U.S. site would give. And I want the option of switching to the international version when the British news is just too parochial or narcissistic (the McCanns, Survivor, Britain's Got Talent), or when the foreign news is more pressing and in need of an a non-American perspective. On the other hand, when the main international news is American-oriented (Federal elections, Wall Street, the war on terror, the World Series) and much-better-covered by the American sources I've already seen, so I'd want to switch back to UK Version. And I want to have that easy switchability (in about two clicks and two frames), rather than having to re-set a whole bunch of permanent preferences, à la Yahoo!

    ¶ As for whining about who pays a licence fee, consider that almost every other major web site is still free (although this is killing the U.S. newpaper industry at a frightening rate), from al-Jazeera to Ha'aretz to Radio Netherlands International to the CBC to the Guardian International to most of the general-interest content of The Wall Street Journal. The General Overseas Service was originally seen and funded (like the British Council) as something that aided British foreign policy and goodwill towards Britain while maintaining [in theory and usually in practice] editorial independence and credibility.

    And while the question of distribution rights is a real one (it was frustrating following the British Olympic coverage because so little was viewable through the BBC, while NBC Sports was offering hundreds of hours of free footage), the advertising question is, I think, moot. Although my browser's usually set to the UK version, I still see advertisements that are definitely for the U.S. consumer (sometimes for viewers in my own state or city), rather than ones for Tesco, The Daily Mirror or W.H.Smith, let alone the football pools.

  • Comment number 68.

    As a dedicated international viewer this doesn't affect me much, but I would like the choice.

    However with the limited and expensive satellite-fed bandwidth we have in darkest Africa, I would like a lot less embedded video in the news content. I can still read, and enjoy it, so these compulsory videos slow me down to a crawl and annoy me immensely.

  • Comment number 69.

    I live in Switzerland and use the international (Worldwide) Newspage. I have never seen any ads anywhere on BBC pages ;-)

  • Comment number 70.

    Blimey, what a bunch of moaning whatsits you lot are.

    First, you CAN - repeat, CAN - watch things like PMQs from outside the UK - I'm in the UAE, and just watched it (briefly). The same should go for most BBC News reports, etc - just on the BBC News page, not iPlayer.

    Second, the overwhelming number of people here seem to be British expats - like myself - or business travellers/holidaymakers moaning about not having the UK version.

    Here's a thought - why not make the UK News section ( your home page? Then that gives you the main UK stories, and none of that foreign rubbish.

    If you care so much about having a mix, then why not do as Steve Hermann suggests, and spend a moment customising the homepage? The BBC IS giving you options to see what you want - if you're not prepared to use them, then that's your problem.

    Personally, I like the international version of the site - and so, I suspect, do the many, many, many millions of people out there who are NOT UK expats, and who want to see the international version of a site that offers them a perspective on events they may not otherwise have access to.

    Like it or not, the web has moved on from basic, static pages - I think this is a good thing, others will quite reasonably disagree. However, it does mean we are all in a position to get a more customised experience - but this requires us to work a little bit for it. It is literally impossible for the BBC or any other major website to please everyone, and give each individual exactly what they want.

    Get over it, and help yourselves for a change, instead of expecting other people to do it for you.

  • Comment number 71.


    "To be honest there aren't THAT many differences between the two pages, but viewing the international page doesn't give you the same FEEL for what news is big in the UK."

    Indeed, and the same can be said with regards to being in the UK and knowing what the big stories are in the world, away from UK centric media-celebs and the other non stories that so often headline the UK edition of the BBC news web-page. Someone called the UK version 'Tabloid', I have to agree, often I turned (for now the changes have been made despite the just criticisms offered here) to the international version just to get away from the mind-numbing, gutter-lapping content that is being served to us as the 'important stories of the day' - for example, when this blog was first published the international version of the business section lead with the Chrysler take over whilst the UK version lead with what is basically a sports/media story about the pay-to-view broadcaster Setanta.

    Typical BBC arrogance, time for the licence fee to be scrapped, time that they arrogant (and faceless people) within the BBC lost their tax payer funded assured jobs and pensions etc...

  • Comment number 72.

    I'm in the UK but, when accessing the BBC news website from work, I'm often prevented from viewing UK content. Our internal company IP addresses have been set up in such a way that, if presented to websites, they identify us as being in Brazil and some content is blocked. With these new changes, are we cgoing to be constantly presented with content from Brazil now? Just leave things as they are.

  • Comment number 73.

    I spend much of my time in Germany and I often use the International version to see world events but I also switch back to the UK version for various reasons. One of the main ones is that you are presented with different topics on 'Have your say' when you are on the UK version.
    Leave things the way they were!!

  • Comment number 74.

    Just where did the discussion about license payers come from? - it was not in the original piece?

    Like many other people in the UK my internet connection surfaces in another country - at home I appear to be German, work made look Italian or Dutch and occasionally from the USA - this is the big failing with IP based geoloction and international service providers.

    If a cynic I might think that the absence of the version button is more about forcing overseas people to see the paid for ads than custom content.

    Oh, and my UK gripe as non-license payer (no TV for me!) is that news content with embedded live TV forces an unsolicited violation the terms of not having a license (no access to internet live broadcasting)... so that means I give up on reading the news site

  • Comment number 75.

    So we are now sitting on 70+ comments and, apart from one or two people who don't seem to understand the full implications of exactly what is being proposed, everyone is against this change!

    I think Glaistig made one of the most salient points in this whole discussion, when he said:

    "I come to the BBC news site because I want to see what the editors think the news agenda, top story etc. is in the UK on any given day. I want to see the editorial decisions that weigh domestic and international news against each other from a UK perspective. If that's obscured or no longer available then there's very little reason for me to come here over other news outlets."

    The original post from Steve Herrmann simply doesn't address this issue.

  • Comment number 76.

    And here is an example of a page with video content that appears to be unnecessarily restricted to UK users...

  • Comment number 77.

    I live in the UK but I make sure is always set to the international version on each of the computers I use so that I get less-UK-centric view and instead see the news stories that are important to the whole world. It's gonna be a shame to lose this top-level view.

  • Comment number 78.

    70. At 09:59am on 11 Jun 2009, eliotbeer wrote:

    "Blimey, what a bunch of moaning whatsits you lot are.

    First, you CAN - repeat, CAN - watch things like PMQs from outside the UK - I'm in the UAE, and just watched it

    Err, that's almost 24hrs after it took place, people were commenting on live streaming, can you watch it live via the web?

    "Here's a thought - why not make the UK News section ( your home page? Then that gives you the main UK stories, and none of that foreign rubbish."

    That is the problem, now that the change has been made they can't, if they access the BBC via a non UK IP number they have to use the the '.../1/...' switch due to the IP# sniffing whilst those accessing via a UK IP# has to use the '.../2/...' switch regardless of their own personal (domicile) locations.

    "If you care so much about having a mix, then why not do as Steve Hermann suggests, and spend a moment customising the homepage?"

    Because most people don't use a 'Home page', what about those who access via web cafes (or universities, do the BBC have an exception for educational IP numbers?...) etc. whilst away and want to catch up on the news back home whilst - perhaps - checking their personal Hotmail, Google or ISP web-mail accounts?

    "Get over it, and help yourselves for a change, instead of expecting other people to do it for you."

    Err, I suspect that those who are complaining are those who have moved on, they don't want nor need, their hands holding...

  • Comment number 79.

    Geo-location is all well and good until you are whisked away to a site and language you do not want and may not understand. This raises many issues like - if I am in the UK and bookmark a page with media content, will I be able to view this outside of the UK. Reading in between the lines it looks like "No". If someone has paid their licence fee then there are secondary conditions being placed upon the payment that limits access to 'paid for' materials. How is that going to be addressed?

    Personally, I am not too concerned as it is still simple and possible to circumvent this. If it works for me I will use it. If it does not I will simply not click into it. For me, I find it irritating and a total waste of bandwidth to click on a story only to find it is a video link that I do not particularly wish to view. yet it still loads. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    I am sure the nay sayers will moan due to adversity to change and I see that they already are. Where I am concerned is that information is being selectively delivered based upon your location. This, however it is nicely worded and wrapped up, is one form of censorship and somewhat disturbing.

  • Comment number 80.

    I travel regularly, I am one of the 'few' that always clicks UK version when abroad. I really don't mind coming across the 'problems' of seing a link that is not available to my region. Yes, I have already customised the BBC homepage to suit my UK preferences. Simply, I believe taking the choice away is a negative.

  • Comment number 81.

    How does it remember my preferences? Doing it with cookies is useless because I regularly clear all cookies from my browser for security reasons and because I object to my browsing habits being tracked by some organisations for their commercial gain. So it looks as though I'll be stuck with the default because resetting preferences every time is going to be a pain. While I was away in the US it was good to be able to trivially view the UK-centric version of the news so I could keep up with the home interest. I think you should still provide some easy links to set one or two common default customisations to mimic previous behaviour of the site.

  • Comment number 82.

    There is a site which for £5 per month offers access to BBC iPlayer [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]. It gives you a secure UK internet access.

    I agree that it is very anoying to have to miss certain features just because you are for a short period of time abroad.

    One solution to the problem of licence fee is to have a login ID that is based on the licence that we pay in the UK and so this will sort the problem of people being away abroad.

  • Comment number 83.


    "Just where did the discussion about license payers come from? - it was not in the original piece?"

    Because many licence fee payers will, due to either travel or work-place IP numbers, now be prevented from accessing UK content editorial (the rights issues are another subject) that they have paid for!

  • Comment number 84.

    Damn, I always set the front page to "international", I found it much more interesting then the boring news of the UK falling apart slowly.
    Ah well, guess Yahoo will do.

  • Comment number 85.


    Goodbye then Mr Moaner! We won't miss your stuck-up attitude. Thank you for creating more room in this country for people who actually WANT to be here.
    Goodbye Mr Moaner!


    Coming back to sane reality, I do not mind this change. As has been pointed out before, the UK news section is still available at and so the same content is still available - just not all on the news homepage. And the BBC homepage can still be customised, so why not use that?

  • Comment number 86.

    The likes of eliotboy who say we are expat whingers is not reading the majority of posts, which are from UK licence fee payers who happen (a) (like me) to find themselves abroad for holiday or business from time to time or even regularly; and (b) those whose companies (like mine) to have foreign IP addresses - my company's IP address seems to indicate I'm in Sweden.
    As a LICENCE FEE PAYER I don't see why I shouldn't get access to the content I want IN THE WAY I WANT IT. That's the whole point of BBC Online, it was content "whenever, wherever, however" you want it. All the BBC trails for, for instance, news, say "online, on digital, on air...." blah blah - but the reality is that the BBC is making lazy, general suppositions about where we are and how we want our content - without, I suspect, having done sufficient research.

    It's quite clear to me that the BBC can't continue to demand a licence fee if it can't continue to provide me with the ability to get access to content as I want it.


  • Comment number 87.

    Very sad about this. What I really want is to be able to get the regular news broadcasts. Noon, six, and 10. I would gladly pay to be able to do this. When I looked into what was available through real networks sometime ago - I found it worthless. How about just allowing us to pay for access? While I now live in the US - I do pay taxes in the UK and value being able to keep up on what is going on. Not being able to get the "real" BBC news, leaves me feeling quite cut off.

  • Comment number 88.

    Why have we been given such a short amount of time between the publication of the editors' decision and the website actually changing? This seems embarrassingly rushed and ill-considered. I for one am disappointed about the fact I can no longer access the International version whilst in Britain. I can get UK-centric news from the radio and TV (which is becoming increasingly blinkered as time passes) but what I would like is an international perspective. By limiting our choices you're making an increasingly insular British public all the more so.
    And on a bit of a tangent, any chance you could improve the Europe section of the website? Rumour has it we are still a part of the EU but judging by how long some reports remain up there, you'd think the BBC only got the occasional dribble of information by a process of Chinese whispers in conjunction with pigeon post from somewhere in the outer reaches of the South Pacific.

  • Comment number 89.

    I'm an expat in Germany, and I enjoy keeping up to date with the UK content/news as much as I can.

    I currently have open in two browsers - one with the German/international version and one open under a VPN connection showing the UK version.

    Selecting the "UK" menu item on the international version ( shows the same content as the corresponding UK-based page ( But, this is *not* the same as the UK-based front page....

    So, couldn't the issue be easily sorted by adding a "UK Front Page" option to the International UK menu (along with "England, Northern Ireland ... etc" menu items)?

    Just a thought.

  • Comment number 90.

    Again I live and work in Ireland 9 onths of the year but have a home in the UK and pay a UK TV license. I like to keep my Newspage UK focussed, now this daft change is removing that opportunity from me.

    Nice Work!

  • Comment number 91.

    So with basically no consultation, the change has now been made. Cue a LOT of angry people.

    And to some of the posters above, going to now automatically redirects to if you have a non-UK IP address.

  • Comment number 92.

    Oh and btw if you browse with Firefox and use the adblock plus addon you can remove the horrific ads completely and seamlessly from the BBC site when abroad, and have it look exactly as it would in the UK.

  • Comment number 93.

    #85. TomatoTomaydo

    Sorry but I really don't think you understand the issues here.

  • Comment number 94.

    I'm not in favor of this AT ALL. Why don't you do something useful like update "have your say" comments more often than every 48 hours.

  • Comment number 95.

    How about some feed back Steve (get the correct person this time...), or is everyone hiding under their desks due to the incessant 'incomings' being metaphorically lobbed in your direction?...

  • Comment number 96.

    Oh no...this really sucks. I don't mind the ads (much more descrete than the Telegraph online) but I do miss the ex-pat button.

    #47 We like to sample that complusive diet from a safe distance - have our cake and eat it!

  • Comment number 97.

    #88: "Why have we been given such a short amount of time between the publication of the editors' decision and the website actually changing?"

    Ooh. Yes, it's changed. I live in Sussex, pay my licence fee, and work in London for a US company. My external IP address is American, and I now get the international version of the News page.

    I'll add my vote to the huge majority against the move. I want to be able to choose the UK News front page.

  • Comment number 98.

    No use complaining, the decision is made and nothing we say will change it. You have destroyed your key advantage of providing a strong UK orientation to overseas users such as myself. CNN, France24, Al Jazeera etc all give me an international view and some can manage preferences for versions too.
    I do use the homepage, heavily customised, so when are you going to give me the chance to link in the magazine or other entries from the navigation panel on the left of your news pages ?
    PS Actually I do understand your problems with rights but why didn't you also mention the cost of bandwidth for overseas users as a motivation ? I would pay for some of that.

  • Comment number 99.

    and I hope you don't take away my option to have my UK birth place as my location just because I'm overseas.

  • Comment number 100.

    So the world moves forward with web 2.0 and the BBC goes backwards. How does this "make it easier all round"? Has anyone at the BBC heard about the 3 click rule? No more customisation. No more seeing the news from Manchester. Just global stories and news from London. A real pity. On the front page approx 8 out of 28 stories are now UK based. Thanks for letting us know what you think of readers around the world. Goodbye BBC.


Page 1 of 7

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.