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BBC Trust says Red Button and online should merge

May 20, 2013

BBC Trust has recommended the corporation to merge its online and Red Button operations.  In its most recent review of BBC Online and BBC Red Button, the governing body said that the BBC should look to improve navigation across the different parts of BBC Online, with an improved links and design consistency and better search functionality and more personalization. It also wants to see the convergence of online and Red Button to see Connected Red Button – as available in Virgin Media homes – spread.

It said that as the BBC Red Button “increasingly becomes a gateway to access BBC Online,” it would be sensible to bring them together under a single service license. This would help them to complement each other in the future, the Trust said. The BBC Red Button serves over 17 million people each week. Its users value the day-to-day provision of news and sport headlines, weather and other information. It says that due to the reduction in capacity on some digital TV platforms, the Red Button may struggle to meet audience expectations of providing extended events coverage on those platforms. However, we are confident it will remain an important service for licence fee payers and will increasingly be a gateway to access BBC Online content.

The other recommendations put forward include calls for the BBC to “provide better local news and information,” following complaints that the BBC’s local sites are not as strong as its UK and international news output.

“In the five years since we first reviewed BBC Online, the digital world has advanced rapidly and people’s expectations of online services have changed. For example, in 2008 the iPlayer was just launching, whereas now audiences consider it a ‘world class’ part of the BBC’s online offer,” said BBC Trustee Suzanna Taverne, who led the review.

The report marks the second service review of Online and Red Button, which were last reviewed in 2008 and 2010 respectively. A public consultation on the BBC’s proposal to merge BBC Online and BBC Red Button under a single service licence has now been launched and will run until August 13th.

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