An Award Winning BBCi

Published on 20 April 2007 in , , , , , , ,

Just down the corridor from my desk at work is a large meeting area, with such features as several extremely uncomfortable armchairs, tables which wobble when you lean on them and a dark green furry sofa that’s so deep, that it could only be truly comfortable if there was some serious cushions on it (there aren’t).

To make up for the furniture there’s also a 50″ plasma screen which, on the rare occasions its hooked up to a HD set top box, looks quite frankly stunning. And there’s a small glass cabinet with awards in it. They’re not hugely exciting awards – the row of five BAFTAs for example sit in the area of department head Ashley’s Highfield’s desk – but they’re awards non the less. One of them is the Avant Go Channel of the Month award that the myBBC PDA service won in January 2001. Actually BAFTA’s are amazingly heavy – back in Bush House, one of the senior managers had some in their office. As they were rarely in the building, we used to use it for a meeting room because they had a nice sofa.

Anyway I digress. This was a post that was supposed to celebrate something more recent – the fact that this week, BBCi won the International Interactive Emmy award for Best Interactive Television Service.

In the past most of the awards and plaudits have tended to concentrate on the BBC’s interactive TV programming – stuff like Wimbledon, Olympics and so on – so its really nice to see the stuff I work on get some recognition. Information services providing news, sport and so on, aren’t exactly the most glamorous, sexy kind of thing. They sit there and they do their stuff. Indeed a fantastic 15m users a month use BBCi’s 24/7 operations – roughly the same incidentally as the number of UK users gets in the same period.

There’s a small way to go until we can match Ceefax’s 20m or so (that figure incidentally is about 3 years old and I can’t find anything more recent) however given BBCi isn’t available on at least a third of the TV sets in the land, we’re doing pretty well.

There will however be plenty of Ceefax users who will resent losing their old friend as analogue signals begin to be switched off. Analogue switch off does pose some challenges out there for our team – not least answering the burning question that members of the public seem to ask the most – just why doesn’t BBCi carry Ceefax’s letters page?

(Without saying too much, Ceefax Letters fans might want to keep their eyes peeled over the next few months?)