Digital quirk forces Freeview change

This blog’s changing. As we get into Olympic Games-time it’s going to be shorter, snappier and more frequent - maybe even daily when the action starts.

What I’m going to do is pick up some of the main issues about our coverage, and give people the chance to offer us feedback.

So here’s the first one, which is advance notice of the way we’re going to have to arrange our commentary services for the Opening Ceremony.

We said a while ago that we’d offer Audio Description - a commentary service specially tailored for people who are blind or partially-sighted - for the first time live for the Olympic Opening Ceremony.

The good news is that this will definitely be available on satellite, cable and the BBC website.

But on Freeview unfortunately we’ve discovered a quirk of the digital age, which is that TV platforms can struggle and go “blocky” when we play out the same pictures on multiple channels - especially when the pictures have a lot of activity in them.

Over the past month a lot of technical effort has gone into trying to finding a solution.

Audio only option

But we’ve reluctantly accepted that on Freeview we can’t broadcast the same pictures, as had been planned, on BBC One standard-definition; channel 301 (which would have accommodated the two audio choices); and on the BBC News Channel, with some pictures also appearing in the News on BBC Two.

The result is that we’re having to reduce the Freeview 301 offering to audio-only, which means the AD service will be there - but not the “no commentary” option, which won’t be available on Digital Terrestrial services.

We know this will disappoint some people, and we’ve tried really hard to find a solution.

But we have to follow this course to protect the picture quality on BBC One where the overwhelming majority will be watching.

And, as I say, if you use cable or satellite or click on our website then you will find all the services as previously advertised - and Audio Description will still be on Freeview albeit as sound only.