BBC Trust confirms Red Button cutback across digital platforms; promises investment in IPTV

The BBC Trust today confirmed plans, first outlined last year, to reduce the BBC Red Button video streams down to one on all digital platforms from later this year.

Currently, there are up to 9 different red button video streams available, although Freeview has only had one videostream since late 2009. The Olympics will provide a final climax to the era of the BBC red button, with up to 24 SD and 24 HD simulcast red button streams available, plus 2 SD red button streams on Freeview, plus 1 HD simulcast. 

The BBC News multiscreen, already removed off Freeview, will be closed down altogether in line with the changes.

On satellite, the reduction of red button streams could free up space which could go toward providing some capacity for the three additional national versions of BBC One HD for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that can't fit on the current BBC HD satellite transponder. Ultimately, any surplus capacity will allow the BBC to reduce the number of satellite transponders it currently uses and reduce distribution costs.

Additional investment for IPTV
In today's BBC Trust report, the Executive has also proposed "some additional investment to fund a range of developments to help prepare the BBC for a converged digital world, including developing IPTV services for connected TV sets, with access through the BBC Red Button, and further digital curation."

In the report, the Trust recognised the strategic importance of the BBC keeping up with technological developments, although they await any formal proposals that "may involve significant changes to services before assessing them for further regulatory scrutiny".  

  • Footnote: It's 10 whole years since the first BBC interactive services on digital terrestrial television. Extra content became available to viewers with old ITV Digital or ONdigital boxes on the 20th May 2002 with the start of the annual RHS Chelsea Flower Show. This was followed a month later with the first interactive coverage of the 2002 Football World Cup and Wimbledon on channels 701 and 702. These interactive services ran under the "BBCi" brand used by the BBC at the time. These services were part of a free to air digital terrestrial TV service that remained after ITV digital collapsed, and before the launch of Freeview (which saw BBCi services on 701 and 702 move from multiplex A to multiplex B), in October of that year.

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