BBC answers to complaints made regarding World Service website changes
Since early April, the BBC has almost shut down the BBC World Service website. As the World Service is no longer available in Europe on AM or shortwave, this website is important to European listeners. However, with the change, some essential links had gone. I asked the BBC for a response on 7 questions, and the Controller in charge of the changes replied:
1. No editorial content is available on bbcworldservice.com, leaving the listener stranded as to find out what is new or interesting to listen to.
While it is true that the amount of editorial curation has been reduced, it is not the case that “no editorial content” is available on http://www.bbcworldservice.com. All programmes, podcasts and schedules are available there, as before. The only thing that has changed is the number of programmes promoted on a daily basis. At the moment, users outside the UK see one radio programme and one television programme highlight. The other programmes can be reached through an easy A-Z list sitting under the highlights.
Closer integration with BBC News website means topical programmes can be presented to a user through regional news indices – like Americana on US & Canada index and Focus on Africa and Network Africa on Africa index. We are in the process of extending the promotion of relevant WS programmes on more sections of the News site.
2. No link to the 24 hour news stream is available on bbcworldservice.com, and as for European and US listeners the internet is the only way to listen to the BBC this link is key.
We are aware that internet is an important platform for listeners in Europe and US. That is why a decision was taken to present the same stream to our web-users that we broadcast on radio. The stream contains a mix of news and programmes and helps a listener – wherever they are in the world – experience the best of BBC World Service. The News stream has been discontinued, but we have received very, very little complaint.
3. No link to the African stream is available on bbcworldservice.com, equally important.
You can get to the Africa stream by clicking on an African programme in the Programmes list on bbcworldservice.com. The link sits on the top right-hand side of the page. A quicker way of getting to it is by clicking on the following link:
4. No link to the (weekly) schedules is available on bbcworldservice.com, again leaving the listener stranded as to find out what is available.
Users coming in through http://www.bbcworldservice.com can access the schedules by choosing the How & When to Listen tab next to the Programmes tab on bbcworldservice.com. Users coming in through http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world_radio_and_tv/ can access the schedules by clicking on the BBC World Service radio link just below the social media links on the right-hand side of the page.
Here is a schedule for Amsterdam that I searched for:
5. The World Service is no longer named (as link) on the international bbc.co.uk homepage, except for the complete bottom of the page in the A to Z index.
The international BBC.com homepage has been redesigned – a project quite unrelated to changes at WS.com. WS Language services now have more prominence; English is not listed in the module, and it may be that we can look again at the link to English. However, it is still easily reached, via the A-Z index, as you say, or via Radio in the pan-BBC navigation at the top of the page.
In addition, WS English is available via the News site, on our international iPad and Android news apps and on other mobile platforms. We are committed to making WS radio as widely available as we can.
6. The new Radio Player has led to large groups of listeners being no longer able to listen to the BBC News output.
I’m not sure I understand. I have no difficulty in finding WS on Radioplayer – just enter it into the search box.
It is true that some users in the US and Europe are reporting a fault with the audio stream for WS online. That is quite unrelated to the site redesign, and is being investigated as a matter of priority by our technical staff.
7. Read http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/overtoyou/2011/04/a_new_look_for_bbc_world_servi.html for the more than 130 other complaints made regarding this change.
I can assure you that we do read all comments from users, and take the feedback very seriously. As explained previously, there are further improvements in mind and in the course of that we will review whether we can modify the changes made to date.