The BBC is using open source technology to provide visitors to its 10 national radio websites with a live text service.
The live text tells users what’s on air now and what is coming up, whether it be the current number 1 on the Chris Moyles show, football match commentary on Radio 5 Live or the latest comedy on Radio 4.
The new service replaces an older text update service from the broadcaster, and uses XMPP, the platform on which Google Wave is based, and push feed technology.
The BBC worked with web communications company ProcessOne to implement the XMPP platform in a project which took from start to finish.
Alan Ogilvie, Platform Manager, BBC Future Media & Technology, said, “The solution recommended, built and supported by ProcessOne has accomplished what we set out to do in a proficient and collaborative process. We now feel that, for push message delivery, we have the right tools available for any future services we may want to add.”
The new live text feeds were first launched on the Radio 1 website and were then rolled out to the remaining BBC radio sites. Text information can now be viewed not only on the website, but on all mobile devices and DAB radios.
Whilst this was already possible using the previous platform, the new service allows for more elaborate use of the push feeds. This is particularly useful for those radio stations such as Radio 5 Live that emphasise listener interaction.
Following the initial rollout of the service in August 2009, it is now live across the majority of BBC national radio sites across the UK. These include Radio 1, the Asian Network and Radio 5 Live. The key difference between the old and the new services is the increased volume of data that can now be handled and how the text is being pushed out.
This use of the open-source XMPP platform, should allow the BBC to more easily enhance its offerings in the future to potentially include graphics, slide shows and other rich media.
“The BBC has long been a pioneer of new technologies and has played an important role in introducing them to mainstream audiences, as with the iPlayer. The solution supports the BBC in this continued innovation,” said Mickaël Remond, CEO of ProcessOne.