BBCi Happenings

Published on 14 September 2005 in , , ,

Last week we launched our biggest ever project – a project that had taken years to get from start to finish. In fact it’s not even finished, as we’ve so far, we’ve only launched on satellite. And you know what hurts after all that hard work? No one – not one person – outside the organisation noticed.

Of course that was actually one of the success criteria – the project was about replacing the system that delivered the news and sport content onto the screen, and for launch the new system was supposed to output the content so that it looked exactly the same as it did when published by the old one.

Now some people on hearing this, might wonder what was the point? Well the new system is more flexible, cheaper and will allow us to tap into all sorts of things out of the back of the News publishing system. But when you’re making such major infrastructure changes, it’s far easier just to replicate first and then change things later.

It is however a bit disheartening. Part of the joy of launching something for me, is to see all that hard graft on screen and in this case, we didn’t have that. Indeed it resulted in some highly amusing moments when a colleague and myself were staring at a screen trying to see if it had even launched! The only criteria thing we knew that might show up the change was that "more articles will fit [on screen] better". If they did fit better, they weren’t revealing.

Thankfully this mammoth project wasn’t mine – I just had some pitifully small contributions, and took the opportunity to drink some of their free booze when they had reached one of their final milestones. Free booze and minimal involvement – actually that’s my kind of project.

More noticeable today was the launch of our new radio service on Freeview. As well as the live text content (also used on DAB radios) the BBC radio stations now have extra programme and channel information, along with news, sport and weather summaries and other gubbins. There’s even a "hide screen" option if you just want to stare at blackness instead (great for people who listen to the radio via their TV when going to sleep!)

Again it wasn’t one of my projects, but I got to watch it progress from the sidelines. Although it all looks rather simple, it’s rather complex behind the scenes and has been ongoing as a project for quite some time, so it’s good to see it on air.

If you’re like me, you might remember that old BBC Digital trailer from the late 1990s – “soon you’ll be able to see radio”. Okay, we’re not quite at the stage of shoving live webcams in the studio and streaming it on the TV, but radio “viewers” can now get some more information on what’s coming up, and other stuff related to the station – on 6music for example, there’s a music news section. And if nothing else, I won’t have to retune channel to find the weather when I’m listening to Today in the morning.