Jul 092016

International rollout of BBC iPlayer Radio app

The BBC has launched an international BBC iPlayer Radio app in the Republic of Ireland, the first stage of its global roll-out.
Available in the UK since 2012, the free BBC iPlayer Radio app will transform access to BBC Radio programmes internationally, making it easier for audiences around the world to listen to a variety of BBC radio stations, including BBC World Service English, on their devices wherever they are.

BBC World Service in English, which has a global audience of 66m, will automatically display on a touchscreen dial when users outside the UK open the app for the first time. Users can simply spin the dial to access more BBC Radio stations and discover more world-class content which includes news, music, drama, comedy.

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Feb 122015

The BBC’s Jim Simmons has this evening issued an apology over the way changes to BBC internet radio streams were announced following the broadcaster’s transfer of streams to its new Audio Factory infrastructure.

It has left some internet radio owners without access to the BBC’s stations and will result in some UK listeners losing access to BBC Radio 5 Live during sports coverage.

While the changes relating to the withdrawal of support to Windows Media streams, which were used by a small minority of listeners, were widely publicised, the withdrawal of SHOUTcast AAC streams caught many by surprise.

SHOUTcast – a platform that previous owner AOL were planning to close in 2013, but was subsequently taken over by Radionomy – is used by a variety of devices, and as part of the changes only MP3 SHOUTcast streams were retained, but some, especially BBC Radio 3 listeners have complained about the inferior quality of the MP3 streams. Additionally, only international streams are available, meaning that sports coverage to which the BBC only has UK rights to is blanked out even in the UK, affecting the availability of BBC Radio 5 Live.

Responding to the over 300 comments his BBC blog on the changes generated, the Senior Product Manager in BBC Radio and Music said:

“Firstly I would like to sincerely apologise again for all the inconvenience that this change has caused you. We did have to move to new infrastructure and we did have to make choices about formats and delivery methods. When I communicated last year about windows media, I was so focused on being clear about that, that I failed badly in communicating the changes to shoutcast. I do apologise. I’m afraid this change is not really comparable to other BBC changes mentioned [in comments on his blog]. They often have large publicity budgets, little CGI robots etc. I’m afraid you’ve just got me, a blog and my monotone voice recorded in my loft so that I don’t incur studio costs.”

Jim Simmons denied that there was a lack of consultation with manufacturers prior to the changeover, confirming that they had spoken to manufacturers and that the decision to disable AAC SHOUTcast streams was based feedback from manufacturers. He said:

“We have a contact at Reciva, and we have a call booked with Logitech tomorrow morning. We tested 5 Live with Roberts yesterday evening and the stream was working. We believe we have more to do at our end to improve quality of service. We will keep working on it.”

“It honestly does upset me that we have caused this disruption. We try every day to do our best for what is a massively disparate set of users from iPhones to Squeezeboxes – all with very different expectations and desires. We are not in a position to go back but we will sincerely try and do our best for as many of you as possible as we go forwards.”

Feb 112015

By Wednesday of this week all the BBC’s radio networks will be rolled out on to Audio Factory.

That is 11 national services, 6 Nations services and 40 local radio stations. We have also begun switching off our old infrastructure. This switch off will be causing some inconvenience to listeners. We always seek to minimise disruption so it is worth re-stating why these changes have been made.

Before Audio Factory, BBC internet audio streams were provided by different systems and suppliers. All of these disparate systems have reached their end of life. The hardware is, in some cases literally, rusting, and the software that is running the encoding is no longer supported by the companies that wrote it.

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