BBC RADIO : Change of audio formats affecting internet radios
As you may know, the BBC recently changed its audio formats that support radio streams available via internet receivers. As a result, some internet radios are not able to receive BBC radio’s on-demand services and this has resulted in a number of listener/customer enquiries made to both the BBC and the manufacturers. We would be grateful if you could ensure that your audio department is made aware of the changes which may result in you receiving enquiries / complaints from customers who have purchased an internet receiver over the last few months. We would like to reassure you and your customers that we are working with the device manufacturers and technology providers to find a solution as soon as possible.
It is also possible that you may receive enquiries from customers who are experiencing some ‘blanking’ of sports commentary on BBC Radio 5 live where the BBC does not have international rights. This results in a recorded message being played out instead of the sports or music event. We are committed to providing a UK version of the relevant streams for all 57 radio stations (the first time we have done that) in the near future. We will confirm the date when this will be available as soon as possible.
We completely understand that the changes are frustrating to your customers whose devices have not been upgraded to the new format and please be assured that we are working hard with all the manufacturers to help them change to our new streaming technology.
Below is a q and a which explains the changes in more detail.
BBC RADIO AUDIO FORMATS
Why is BBC Radio changing the audio format across its radio streams?
We are restructuring our distribution methods that will allow us to offer a low cost simple solution and one configuration that can work across all platforms leading to a more efficient, reliable and improved delivery process.
Further information can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/internet/entries/28dfd220-7ca1-3683-ac16-3938cfb4b882
The BBC has been communicating the changes to manufacturers over the past 14 months.
When did the BBC stop using WMA (windows media)
The WMA streams were switched off at end of February 2015. This applies to live streams and on-demand streams.
Why is the BBC stopping WMA?
The WMA encoder needed too much investment for it to continue. WMA had also become an out of date format requiring specialist infrastructure to serve it and radio and the wider Internet are moving away from using it. It also placed restrictions on design, limiting flexibility and ability to innovate and support new platforms.
Will the change in format affect my internet radio?
Yes, some radios will be affected. BBC national radio stations and local radio services are available to listen to live if your internet radio supports a format called SHOUTcast MP3. We believe that the vast majority of devices will be able to receive this format successfully. The BBC has released high quality streams for all stations in a format called HLS for live listening and we are working with the manufacturers to implement this across devices. If your radio does not support SHOUTcast MP3 you will not be able to listen to BBC radio services.
Will the change in format affect listening to on-demand programmes?
Yes. The BBC is working with manufacturers to help them upgrade compatible devices as quickly as possible when the software becomes available.
We apologise to all our listeners who may be affected by this change.
Will podcasts be affected with this change?
No, you will still be able to download podcasts using MP3. A full list of programmes can be found at
Why can’t I listen to 5 live on my internet radio?
You can listen if your device uses HLS streams. However, if your device only picks up SHOUTcast MP3, then you may experience some blanking of sports commentary where we do not have international rights. We are working on UK only SHOUTcast streams so that you can continue to listen. We completely understand that this will be very frustrating for listeners on devices that haven’t upgraded to HLS. We are working hard with all manufacturers to help them change to our new streaming technology but this will take some time to be fully available. In the meantime, BBC Radio 5 live and Radio 5 live sports extra are also available via DAB digital radio; online at www.bbc.co.uk/5live ; on digital television via Freeview and FreeSat channel 706, Sky 0144 and Virgin Media 908 and also via the iplayerradio app across a range of mobile devices. The UK only streams, with sports commentary, can also be accessed through UK Radioplayer.
Do I need to buy a new internet radio to listen to BBC radio?
We hope that the majority of internet radios will be able to support the live radio streams. We are working with the manufacturers and technology providers to upgrade the software in their devices for on-demand listening.
What guarantee can the BBC give that they won’t change the formats again?
The BBC seeks to provide the best audio formats to licence fee payers and will continue to review its distribution methods in order to offer the best listening experience to its listeners