BBC Syndication – A Short History

7 July, 2006

So, I thought a bit of background was in order. We’ve been syndicating content from bbc.co.uk to other sites in the UK for about three-and-a-half years now. This has always been done on a public-service basis because of the unique way in which the BBC is funded. In other words, my rationale for this goes like this:

  • UK licence-fee-payers pay for bbc.co.uk
  • Not all of them come to bbc.co.uk (some of them *gasp* use other websites)
  • Our publicly funded content should be available wherever the public is

We used to do this manually. We would go meet websites talk to them about what content was coming up, find out what they were interested in, right a separate legal agreement for each piece of content, develop it within the BBC so it was suitable for syndication, email it to the website with instructions, supervise the way the content was implemented on the site. And repeat. See the problem with this? It used to take ages and it was very people intensive for everybody: us and syndication partners.

This was a necessary step though, partly because syndicating bbc.co.uk content was quite a big step in letting go for bbc.co.uk, of giving up control. This is not universal by any means, but there is a school of thought in the BBC that commerce is dirty and that the people who work on bbc.co.uk are creating content for a public-service website, which should be protected from the rest of the world. This is different from the way I would see it: they are creating public-service content and bbc.co.uk is just one of the outlets for this, oh OK, the main outlet.

Anyway, while we were doing this manual kind of syndication, guess what: nobody died and nobody sued the BBC about our crazy syndication antics. But we knew we needed to change it. I’d like to say it was all a utopian dream to improve syndication, but a large part of the driver was the BBC-wide restructuring that happened – we lost a lot of people from our department and, although we know we wanted to continue syndicating bbc.co.uk content, it just wasn’t practical to continue the manual way.

…and so the idea for BBC Media Bank was born. This site (beta version live soon – and I’ll announce it here) will provide regular, updated BBC content about our TV and radio shows for people to publish to their own site. We will be adding new content each week and it will be available in a standard form and it will all be available under one set of online terms & conditions. This is the way we are classifying the content:

  1. BBC Images
    Picture publicity images
  2. BBC Trademarks
    BBC programme and channel brands
  3. BBC Text
    editorial and programme information
  4. BBC Links
    …to media files
    …to bbc.co.uk pages

And there is a test example of how this might look here. Apologies again to everyone who has been waiting patiently through the protracted development of this site. But I am nearly ready now, honestly. I will post updates on this blog and I welcome any comments or questions.

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One Response to “BBC Syndication – A Short History”


  1. […] Such Thing As Bad Publicity?Dragons’ DenBBC Media Bank Ts & CsBBC NewsOnline VideoLegal MeetBBC Media Bank TermsBBC Syndication – AShort HistoryRSS v AtomHappy Birthday Freeway « BBC Media Bank Ts & Cs No Such Thing As Bad Publicity? » […]


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