BBCi plans for 2007/2008

Published on 1 May 2007 in , , ,

The BBC’s 2007/2008 Statements of Programme Policy were published last week – this year in a very austere looking document that someone had created in Word, with very little in the form of “design”. It’s a very sombre looking tombe when you compare it the sprightly and pretty looking version from 2005.

The recent versions (2006/7 was similarly sombre) look like they’ve been specifically designed to look dull – as if to say “Look, we ain’t wasting licence fee payers money on making our documents look pretty!”. Which is fair enough, because ultimately people don’t want to feel like

money is wasted, however a very plain and dull looking document can be a little hard to read. A little colour here, and image there, really wouldn’t go amis.

For those that don’t know, the Statements of Programme Policy are about the BBC setting out its plans for the forthcoming year – basically how it will be judged by the BBC Trust.

For the last two years I’ve blogged about what BBCi’s management have promised to do – and that covers the stuff I work on – BBCi’s 24/7 services. So why not a third then?

So what are we promising to give you the public this year? If I skip through to page 76 of the PDF, I find that BBCi will:

“Improve the quality of the user experience by introducing simpler

navigation and better content signposting throughout the service, maintaining load times, and investigating the relaunch of the cable”

Anyone who has ever used BBCi on cable knows its far from perfect and in need of some work. Cable has so much potential, what with video on demand and a big fat internet connection, however as it stands, the phrase “Could do better” springs to mind.

One of my projects has been about putting in place infrastructure improvements which will make projects like the revamp of Cable much easier when it happens.

“Provide a more coherent approach to delivering interactive sport content through the development of an integrated and joined-up sport offering.”

Given I find sport rather dull and boring, it’s rather ironic that this is one of my projects, which means I sit in meetings sometimes with the occasional glazed over look whilst people talk keenly about Snooker multiscreens, or multiple commentaries for Welsh rugby. Anyone who loves sport will therefore be very happy to know that my role in the project is not about working out what to give the viewer…

“Launch the BBC’s new on-demand service on at least one video-on-demand enabled digital TV platform”

That’s the old BBC iPlayer on cable as mentioned by head honcho Ashley Highfield at MIPTV recently.

“Complete the correct planning work to ensure that there is parity between the content on the analogue Ceefax service and the digital BBCi service by autumn 2008 (bandwidth and resource permitting).”

Over the nearly four years I’ve been in BBCi we’ve slowly but surely been getting closer to parity with Ceefax. I should say it’s not that BBCi has necessarily less content than Ceefax – more that in some cases it’s just “different” content. Better childrens services, less shares. That kinda thing. BBCi has cinema listings and bigger film pages, but no Chess page. More TV listings, but no agricultural prices page. And lets not even mention airport arrivals and the letters page…

That reflects in a way the different management structures between BBCi and Ceefax – they’ve never been run by the same people and different people in charge people have had priorities. In the most part, it’s not that there’s huge numbers of sections missing – it’s usually just the cases that there’s bits missing here and there. And as the document proclaims:

“It is essential that, during digital switchover (starting autumn 2008

in Borders), no viewer loses significant services that they have relied on from Ceefax as a result of switching to digital.”

Getting it all sorted is unlikely to be a quick and simple thing – many of the missing pages from Ceefax get published via rather antiquated methods, via systems that are in need of replacement. So the work starts here. And there’s a deadline that’s getting ever closer, too…


  • Stuart Maguire says:

    Hi if My TV is not picking up certain multiplexes, will certain bbci services be unavailable,

  • Andrew Bowden says:

    Afraid so – if you can’t get Multiplex B (which has CBeebies/BBC Four, BBC Parliament and BBC radio on it) you won’t be able to get the News Multiscreen, CBeebies Games or the two interactive streams which are used for live sport, music etc.