New Director for BBC Scotland

Steve Carson has been appointed the new director of BBC Scotland, and will replace Donalda MacKinnon when she steps down later this year.

Steve Carson is currently the Head of Multi-Platform Commissioning for BBC Scotland, and is known for both content making and commissioning.

In his new position which he will take up in the Autumn, he will be responsible for leading 1100 staff who produce content across TV, radio, and digital platforms, in both Gaelic and English.

FA Cup Sets Viewing Record

The final of the FA Cup football tournament on August 1st (2020) between Arsenal and Chelsea was the most watched match of the season.

BARB data shows a peak of 8.2 million viewers watch the BBC’s coverage across all platforms, surpassing the 7.3 million for the semi-final match between Chelsea and Manchester United.

The top five most viewed football matches across the 2019-2020 season were all FA Cup games, and all were shown on the BBC.

Additionally, BT Sport also showed the FA Cup final between Arsenal and Chelsea, and as the viewing figures are only for the BBC’s coverage, the actual number of viewers of the match will be even higher.

Further BBC News Job Cuts

The BBC is to make a further 70 job cuts in its news service, increasing to 520 from the 450 job losses announced earlier this year.

The increase in the job losses are a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has increased the financial pressures on the BBC. The jobs cuts include senior management positions.

Most of the BBC News output is being retained, but more content is to be shared amongst programmes both locally and nationally.

However, some high profile shows including the Victoria Derbyshire programme have been axed, although Victoria does remain as a BBC News presenter.

BBC Resumes Scrapping of Free TV Licenses

The BBC is resuming its plan to end free TV licenses for most over 75s from the 1st August.

From this date, only those on pension credit will get a free TV license, meaning 3 million households will now have to pay the charge.

Free TV licenses had previously been funded by central government, but this responsibility has more recently bee transferred to the BBC.

The new scheme will still cost the BBC £250 million a year, but this is considerably less than the previous scheme at £745 million a year. Continuing the previous scheme would have caused considerable cutbacks, damaging the wider BBC as a whole.

BBC Premier League Record, Success for Hamilton on Disney+

Attracting a peak audience of 5.7 million, the BBC has set the record for the most viewed Premier League game with their broadcast of Southampton vs Manchester City. The previous record was set by the Manchester United and Manchester City derby game in 2012, which was viewed by 4 million.

Although not normally a rights holder for live premier league games, the BBC is showing 4 games live due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Disney’s switch of the release of the musical Hamilton to its Disney Plus platform appears to have been successful, with data from Apptopia showing the app had been downloaded 513,323 times over the July the 4th weekend. The recording of the Broadway musical was scheduled for cinematic release.

Additionally, there have been 71.5 million worldwide downloads of the Disney Plus app since launch. This figure excludes India or Japan, where the service has been integrated into existing apps.

Free to Air Premier League

With the remaining Premier League football matches to be held behind closed doors, a number of broadcasters have announced they will showing games free to air.

The BBC will broadcast four games live, in addition to its Match of the Day highlights programmes. The channel to show these matches is not known, but is likely to be BBC One or the BBC Red Button service.

Sky owned free-to-air channel Pick will be showing 25 games live, with the first being Everton v Liverpool, which will also be simulcast on Sky Sports.

Amazon will be streaming 4 matches on its platform Amazon Prime platform, without the need for subscription. The exact matches are yet to be announced.

This leaves BT Sport as the only rights holder to have not announced any free to air coverage.

Including the free to air matches and those as part of subscription services, all remaining Premier League games will be televised live.

BBC to Resume Production

The BBC is to resume production of Top Gear and EastEnders, two of its popular entertainment shows. Both are expected to resume at the end of the month.

Strict social distancing measures will be in force, complying with current government guidelines. Crews will be limited, with cast members responsible for their own hair and make up.

Additionally, ITV panel show Loose Women has also resumed production. Following social distancing, there are only three panel members at the table. The remaining fourth member contributes via video link. For obvious reasons, there is no studio audience.

BBC to Close Ceefax Replacement

BBC LogoThe BBC is to close the Red Button digital text service, which allows viewers to access news and other information via their TV. Original a digital replacement for the analogue Ceefax system, the Red Button text service will close next year.

With the introduction of internet connected smart TVs, the BBC introduced a Red Button + service in 2012, which allows for text and images to be displayed. This will continue, but is only available on compatible TVs connected to the internet.

Due to financial pressures, it is no longer cost effective for the BBC to maintain two distinct versions of the Red Button service. The move will impact some viewers who have poor or no broadband facility, or an older television which does not support the Red Button + service,

Review: +1 Channels – Are they still needed?

On demand content access has improved significantly in recent years, so I thought it would be useful to evaluate if there is a point to keeping these channels.

+1 channels of the likes of ITV and Channel 4 were established to allow viewers to catch a show that they might have just missed the start of. They have historically also been used as placeholders, pending the launch of new channels. They can be found on all major TV platforms, including Freeview.

Subsequently, nearly all TV channels have developed an on demand platform. These allow viewers to catch up on missed programmes for between 7 and 30 days (sometimes longer) after they were first broadcast. Well known catch up services include BBC iPlayer and My5.

Despite this, many +1 channels still exist. For those with recorder boxes which can only record 2 programmes at one time, the +1 channels can assist with reducing scheduling conflicts. However, as programmes are often repeated several times, there are ways around such an issue without +1 channels.

With advances in 4G and 5G mobile data, catch up services are become more accessible to smartphones and tablets. Arguably, this further reduces the need for +1 channels, as TV programmes can be accessed from any location.

Ironically, Freeview frequencies are being reallocated to 5G. Therefore, many +1 channels are likely to have to make way to ensure all channels can continue to broadcast. This means, on Freeview at least, +1 channels are unlikely to stay much longer.

I can’t find a particular need for +1 channels, and while they can at times be useful, I would rather see the space occupied by these channels put to better use.

 

UKTV Channel Number Changes

As part of the split of UKTV, some Freeview channels will be changing numbers on Monday (10th June). This is part of the deal between the BBC and Discovery, with Discovery receiving the channel number 12.

Home, due to be acquired by Discovery, will take over channel 12 from Dave, which returns to its original number 19. Yesterday will in turn move from 19 to 25, which is the current ‘home’ of Home. Dave and Yesterday are to become part of the BBC’s commercial arm BBC Studios.

It is expected that Home will only be on channel 12 for a short time, with Discovery’s Quest likely to take over the slot.