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Second Red Button stream for Winter Olympics on Freeview

The BBC and Arqiva have secured Ofcom's consent to enter into a temporary agreement for the BBC to use spare capacity on Arqiva's Multiplex C (COM5) to broadcast an additional videostream, accessible by a temporary BBC Red Button service. The service will enable greater coverage of the Winter Olympics.

The move is expected to be a repeat of last year's temporary arrangement when Freeview channel 302 was moved to Arqiva's capacity on the multiplex that also carries Sky News and Challenge and activated for a limited time with extra coverage of Wimbledon and Glastonbury.

The BBC does not have sufficient Freeview capacity of its own to broadcast a second Red Button stream. It currently has one Red Button stream, available via the Red Button or via Freeview channel 301.

The second Red Button stream will be active from 3rd February until 24th February 2014, and will show highlights and live coverage of the events at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

It is currently not known when the technical changes will take place to allow viewers to retune to access the extra stream.

Authorising the second Red Button stream on Freeview, Ofcom said: "We recognise the benefits to TV viewers of being able to see additional content from the Winter Olympics. We also recognise that the duration of the arrangement is limited to a three week period and is therefore unlikely, by itself, to raise competition concerns. In addition, we note that this capacity on Multiplex C is only available for a limited period of time. We understand this arrangement with the BBC to be a stand-alone, temporary arrangement.

"Therefore, in accordance with condition 11(8) of the BBC’s Multiplex B licence, we consent to the proposed agreement between Arqiva and the BBC to provide temporary carriage services to the BBC using capacity on Multiplex C."

Last year, Arqiva and BBC were chastised by Ofcom because they had failed to seek the regulators consent to allow the BBC to operate a Red Button stream on Arqiva capacity. Consent is required as a result of a condition of the BBC's licence to operate multiplex B (also known as PSB3). In July Ofcom stated: We note that there have been shortcomings in the process that has been adopted: consent should have been requested prior to entering into agreement and the launch of the service; in addition, the need for consent should ideally have been identified somewhat earlier. "


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