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Analysis: How can the BBC World Service make its services more accessible to the UK?

From April 2014, the BBC World Service, including its international language TV and radio services, will be funded by the licence fee. The BBC Trust says the BBC wants to 'do more' to make these services more easily accessible to users in the UK. 

The main BBC World Service station is already more widely and easily available in the UK than it ever has been in its history, thanks to distribution on various digital platforms.

So how could additional BBC World Service content be made available to UK viewers and listeners, who will be paying for the services from next year*? a516digital looks at the possibilities:

1. Add World Service language TV and radio services to iPlayer
Services including BBC Arabic TV and the corporation's French language radio for Africa could be added to existing UK TV and radio services on the BBC iPlayer, giving maximum visibility, rather than being hidden away on specific World Service websites and even Livestation.

2. Connected Red Button Service on Freeview
The BBC could opt to offer a connected red button service, similar to that already offered via 4Music on Freeview channel 18. Pressing red on the World Service channel (710) could lead to internet streams offering a broad range of BBC World Service language radio services.
A similar function could be developed for the Virgin Media and Freesat interactive platforms.

3. Add BBC Arabic and Persian TV services to the UK digital satellite platform and via Connected TV.
The two channels are already broadcast on Eutelsat's Hot Bird satellite. These services could easily be transmitted at either 28.2 or 28.5 degrees East, using satellites already used for Sky and Freesat channels.

On platforms such as Freeview, where all available capacity assigned to the BBC is already taken and the cost of purchasing additional capacity for what would be minority channels would be prohibitive, the channels could be made available using the same technology as the likes of CCTV and the Vision TV Network - Connect TV. Arqiva's Connect TV platform allows the latest Freeview HD TVs and PVRs to access extra services via broadband internet.

Finally, Smart TV apps, including the iPlayer (see 1.) would allow viewers to access the channels.

*BBC World News TV, plus entertainment and factual channels operated by BBC Worldwide are not included in the change to funding. These services remain commercially funded and not available in the UK.



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