BBC

Some of the UK’s leading broadcasters and independent production companies have signed up as pioneers of Albert – the BBC’s carbon calculator.

The BBC developed the carbon calculator last year as one part of its approach to addressing its environmental impacts under a wide-ranging sustainability plan, The Difference. The online tool is now being used by programme-makers across its output to estimate their carbon footprint and is accompanied by a guide with actions and ideas to reduce emissions.

Now the new consortia – which is being led by BAFTA – will build on the BBC’s work to date and ensure the calculator can be used by any broadcaster or indie – large or small.

The seven pioneers include Channel 4, ITV, IMG, Kudos Film and TV, Shine, Talkback Thames and Twofour, who have all started to feed in their ideas and perspectives on how the calculator can be adapted to work for them. The group is supported by a wide range of technical experts who are ensuring Albert is fit for purpose.

By working with BAFTA and trade association PACT the aim is to open up access to the calculator to anyone working in TV production later this year on a not-for-profit basis. The consortium also plans to stay together in the longer-term to address other sustainability issues within the industry.

The BBC is thought to be the first broadcaster in the world to develop a calculator for TV programmes and believes that by sharing our know-how and learning from others the UK TV industry can lead the way.

Kevin Price, BAFTA Chief Operating Officer, said: “BAFTA is absolutely delighted to be chairing the Albert Consortium and bringing this valuable resource to the TV production community. As a charity, the Academy’s remit is to lead the creative industries in the pursuit of excellence and putting sustainability at the top of the agenda in this way will encourage new, more creative ways of working which will influence the next generation of practitioners.”

Sally Debonnaire, BBC Vision’s Controller of Production Operations, said: “TV producers who want to cut carbon and reduce their company’s energy bills no longer have to worry if they don’t know where to start. By using Albert they can track their carbon emissions and work out how best to cut them, saving money and lowering their environmental impact.”

Stuart Cosgrove, Channel 4 Director of Creative Diversity, said: “Channel 4 is delighted to be a member of this group in support of environmentally sustainable practices within the TV production industry.”

Sarah Gordon-Jones, Head of Production, IMG Media, said: “Albert helps us to make smart, informed decisions on how we can best create great programmes in a sustainable way. IMG are excited to be at the forefront of engaging the industry in building a sustainable future together, through this pioneering project.”

Julie Burnell, ITV Studios Production Executive, Drama, said: “ITV is committed to reducing the impact of its production activity on the environment, and Albert will be a valuable tool for our programme makers to use to estimate their carbon footprint, and then consider ways of reducing their emissions.”

Alison Barnett, Head of Production, Kudos Film and TV Ltd, said: “Kudos Film and TV Ltd are supporters of collective action that not only encourages environmental efficiency and accountability within our industry, but seeks to establish these values as standard practices throughout it.”

Alan Williams, Director of Production, Shine TV, said: “Climate change is one of the biggest challenges that we’re currently facing and it is essential for us all to reduce our carbon footprint. Albert is the starting point on the TV production industry’s road trip to a greener and cleaner future, don’t forget to fasten your seatbelts!”

Esther Johnson, Head of Production, Factual Features, Talkback Thames, said: “The industry needs to come together to respond to the challenge of carbon reduction and Albert provides a great stepping stone towards understanding, at a grass roots level, what we can to do to improve things.”

Mark Hawkins, Group Managing Director, Twofour Group Ltd, said: “As we strive to become a sustainable production company Albert is a perfect tool to track our carbon footprint. We can now make considered decisions, measure success and save money. Albert is a huge step forward for the industry, but it is only the start of the journey.”

The BBC has today appointed George Entwistle as Director, BBC Vision.

The appointment concludes an extensive recruitment search that followed Jana Bennett’s departure from the post in January 2011. Entwistle will also join the BBC’s Executive Board with immediate effect.

George Entwistle, who will take up the post with immediate effect, said: “I am genuinely honoured to have been chosen for the role of Director, BBC Vision. The BBC’s television portfolio is of enormous importance to the creative and cultural life of the UK and is performing strongly in terms of quality and audience reach and share. At the heart of its success, BBC Vision Productions is responsible for some of the best television programmes we broadcast.

“I feel enormously proud to be leading these teams and I will do my utmost to build on the legacy of talent and excellence left by my predecessor, Jana Bennett.”

BBC Director General Mark Thompson said: “I am delighted to be able to confirm George as the BBC’s new Director, Vision. The breadth of his experience across journalism, the arts and factual programmes, combined with his rock-solid editorial judgement and deep understanding of the BBC’s values, equip him brilliantly for this formidable task.

“I am looking forward to working closely with him to ensure the BBC’s television portfolio remains the envy of the broadcasting world.”

BBC Vision today announces the results of its groundbreaking television audibility research project, which will form part of a new best practice guide for programme makers.

The project is the first of its kind, and is the most in-depth piece of research that the BBC has ever carried out into investigating the precise factors that cause audibility problems.

This research has, for the first time, allowed the BBC to develop recommendations based directly on a detailed understanding of viewers’ experience.

In 2010, BBC Vision carried out two separate online surveys among its 20,000 strong Pulse panel to identify specific audibility issues.

Based on these findings, the BBC and the Voice of the Listener & Viewer (VLV) sound engineers carried out in-depth analysis to establish the underlying causes.

Finally a piece of research was devised to test a range of different sound mixes with different audience groups.

 

Key findings to emerge from the research include:

 

Audibility issues can rarely be attributed to one factor; it is usually a combination of factors. For example, a strong regional accent recorded in a noisy location; a softly spoken contributor looking away from the camera; background music or people talking over each other.

The vast majority of audibility problems can be eliminated before any material is shot, eg location choice, sound set up, sound rehearsal time, briefing presenters and contributors.

Audibility issues can be compounded with the addition of background music; a slight reduction in music levels (4DB) make a considerable difference to the audibility of programmes.

 

Danny Cohen, Controller, BBC One, said: “The BBC has listened to its audience and worked hard to understand fully the different issues that viewers have with television sound.

“I am delighted that the BBC has created a series of comprehensive ‘best practice’ films to support our producers and the wider production community to make clear, well-crafted television sound.

“I am particularly grateful to the support the Voice of the Listener and Viewer and the Royal National Institute for Deaf People and its membership has given us to help make this a reality.”

Tanya Motie, Editorial Executive for BBC One and BBC Three, who commissioned the audibility research, said: “Were aware that some viewers have issues with TV sound, but until now we’ve not been clear about how many people are affected or indeed what lies at the heart of these problems.

“As a result we believe we can take steps to improve audibility without compromising the editorial or creative ambition of programme makers.”

The BBC is publishing some best practice guidance for producers on the BBC Academy’s College of Production website, available for anybody to use. The guidance features industry experts giving their insight into how to produce top quality clear sound in all genres.

In addition, BBC Vision will be discussing TV audibility with executive producers in forums throughout BBC Vision.

VLV took part in this project in response to the frequent and large number of complaints they received over many years about inaudibility of speech in television programmes.

President Jocelyn Hay said: “This is the most common complaint VLV receives and in 2009 the number was growing. The problem is particularly serious among the elderly and those who already have hearing problems. It was in this context that VLV’s research proved so valuable.

“We are delighted that the BBC listened to viewers and reacted so positively to the problem. VLV is extremely grateful to all those who have given their expertise to help solve it. We hope that as a result millions of people, currently unable to enjoy television programmes fully, will be able to do so in future.”

RNID’s Director of Public Engagement, Emma Harrison, says: “RNID’s membership survey found a significant number of respondents said background noise affects their ability to hear speech on television and prompted more than half of respondents to switch off.

“We’re delighted that the BBC is listening to viewers’ concerns and their new industry-leading best practice guidance will make UK programmes more accessible to people with hearing loss.”

BBC Director-General Mark Thompson has announced today (18 January) that, after nearly four years leading the BBC Future Media & Technology division, Erik Huggers is to leave the BBC at the end of February to become Corporate Vice President and General Manager of Intel’s Digital Home Group, based at its Silicon Valley headquarters in California.

Since he became Director in August 2008, Future Media & Technology has helped to re-establish the BBC’s strength in technology, changed perceptions of the BBC as an innovator and, as a result, has strengthened our relationship with the public.

During his tenure, BBC Online, BBC Red Button and BBC Mobile have seen exceptional growth, while BBC iPlayer delivered a record 145 million TV and Radio programme views across some 60 devices during December.

In an email sent to all BBC staff, Mark Thompson said: “Erik is the key architect for a radical refocusing of BBC Online as part of our proposals for Delivering Quality First, which we will be announcing in due course. He also presided over significant technology projects such as W1, BBC North and Fabric and has chaired the YouView consortia to the point where it was incorporated as a joint venture. He has been a dynamic and inspiring colleague and I wish him all the best with his new role at Intel.

“Following Erik’s departure, it has been decided, in part, following conversations within the division, to reorganise the Future Media & Technology area into two more distinct areas ndash the development of our digital services to the public such as BBC iPlayer (Future Media) and the core, underlying technology which powers the BBC (Technology). And so, rather than replacing Erik with a new Director of FM&T, I have asked two of Erik’s direct reports to step up.

As Chief Technology Officer (CTO), John Linwood will head up a new Technology division which will be responsible for delivering the BBC’s digital needs in terms of production, broadcast, connectivity and enterprise support. He will continue to be responsible for Information & Archives. The division will be part of the Operations Group under the overall leadership of the Chief Operating Officer, Caroline Thomson. As CTO, John will sit on the BBC Direction Group (BDG).

“John has done an outstanding job over the past 18 months in leading the Broadcast and Enterprise Technology Group at the BBC and driving projects like W1, BBC North and Fabric to successful implementation. I believe that giving John leadership of a separate Technology division and a seat on BDG will help him take the digital transformation of the BBC to the next level.”

“I am also appointing Ralph Rivera as Director of Future Media, a division which will focus on developing and delivering digital products and services. The Future Media side of FM&T also has many recent successes to its name, including BBC iPlayer.

“It, too, faces immense challenges as the pace of digital change quickens, and we strive to meet our audiences’ changing needs. For that reason, Ralph will be a member of the Executive Board where we can continue the critical conversations with both executive and non-executive directors about how the BBC meets the consumer challenges we face in a converged, fully digital world. BBC Research & Development, led by Matthew Postgate, will report in to Ralph’s division though it will continue to partner with the broader BBC and industry.”

These changes are effective from 1 March , 2011.

The Gaelic-language service BBC ALBA will be available to viewers in Scotland on Freeview, following approval by the BBC Trust today as part of a review of the service.

The review looked at how well the channel is serving Gaelic speakers, how well it is attracting new and non-speakers, and how it should be made available to audiences in the future. Continuation of the BBC ALBA service was dependent on a successful review by the Trust. The review included a public consultation which drew over 5,000 responses.

Overall the Trust has concluded that BBC ALBA is performing well and achieving its aims. Specific conclusions include:

BBC ALBA is serving Gaelic speakers well, and is also attracting over four non-Gaelic speakers for every Gaelic speaking viewer.

The service, run jointly by the BBC and MG ALBA, is making strong progress towards attracting new speakers to the Gaelic language, with strong links with educational partners.

The partnership between the BBC and MG ALBA is operating well, and engaging well with the independent production sector – in 2008/9 74% of the content budget was spent on suppliers outside the BBC.

BBC ALBA should be carried on Freeview. The Trust has approved the BBC Executive’s proposal to remove the BBC’s thirteen radio stations from Freeview, in Scotland only, during the hours BBC ALBA is broadcasting, as the most technically and financially viable way of enabling BBC ALBA to be carried on Freeview.

On Freeview carriage, the BBC Executive explored and ruled out a range of possibilities for making BBC ALBA more widely available. For example, buying spectrum was ruled out due to the prohibitive cost. The removal of a red button stream or BBC Parliament from Freeview was also ruled out due to the likely loss of significant public value. Distributing BBC ALBA on broadband as an alternative to Freeview was ruled out due to relatively low broadband take-up and slow broadband speeds in Scotland, particularly in the Highlands and Islands.

BBC Trust Chairman Sir Michael Lyons said:

“The question of how to make BBC ALBA more widely available to licence fee payers in Scotland is a good example of the wider issue of distribution choices which we have been grappling with as part of our recent Strategy Review – how the BBC should best reach audiences as platforms increase. Through the Strategy Review we’ve committed the BBC to doing more to ensure that its services can be conveniently accessed by all audiences, and doing more to represent the nations. Enabling BBC ALBA to be carried on Freeview is a key part of that commitment.”

National Trustee for Scotland Jeremy Peat said:

“It’s very encouraging to see that BBC ALBA is performing well and is appreciated by Gaelic speakers and learners. Carrying ALBA on Freeview will bring the service to a much wider audience across Scotland – it’s been clear from our review that there are strong views about the future of the service and this has not been a straightforward decision, but we believe that it’s the option that really offers the most benefit for licence fee payers in Scotland.”

The Trust also highlighted in its conclusions the importance of ensuring that programme quality on BBC ALBA continues to be kept high, as the amount of original programme stock, available from MG ALBA at launch, is declining over time as it is broadcast. The Trust has asked the Executive to consider whether its existing budget is sufficient for BBC ALBA to continue to meet its objectives, and has highlighted that it expects to see viewing levels and awareness of the service increase over time, with further progress towards the channel’s target of 250,000 viewers.

The Trust also expects the Executive to continue to explore whether the development of technologies which use spectrum more efficiently might enable some radio services on DTT in Scotland to be maintained alongside BBC ALBA in the future, subject to the normal value for money and public value considerations.

The three contenders for the prestigious BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year 2010 award are announced today as: Tom Daley, Zoe Smith and Jodie Williams.

The trio have been selected from an original shortlist of 10 by chairman of the judging panel, John Inverdale, Jake Humphrey (BBC Sport), Helen Skelton (Blue Peter presenter), Ore Oduba (Newsround/Sportsround presenter), Amy Spencer and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (former YSPOTY winners), two representatives from BBC Sports Personality of the Year, and two representatives from the Youth Sport Trust.

The original 10 were Conor Coady, Tom Daley, Jade Jones, Dan Lucker, Sam Oldham, Liam Pitchford, Laura Robson, Emma Saunders, Zoe Smith and Jodie Williams.

The 2009 BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year, Tom Daley, is bidding for a hat-trick, having also previously won the title in 2007. This year the 16-year-old Devon diver became the second youngest double Commonwealth Champion ever in Delhi, winning the 10m individual competition and 10m synchro. Daley also defeated the Olympic Champion, Matt Mitcham, in a closely fought individual contest, producing a set of perfect 10s from the judges in the third round.

Seventeen-year-old sprinter Jodie Williams is going for gold this year after narrowly missing out on the prestigious title to Daley in 2009. Unbeaten in the whole of her 100m sprinting career she won gold in the 100m and silver in the 200m at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Moncton, Canada. Record breaking Williams continued her good form setting a new European 200m youth record of 22.79 seconds – the second fastest time ever for an under-17 girl, as well as setting a British under-20 110m record of 11.24 seconds.

Young weightlifter Zoe Smith’s bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games landed her in the record books as she became the youngest ever Commonwealth weightlifting medallist as well as England’s first ever female Commonwealth weightlifting medallist. Showing signs of a promising career, 16-year-old Smith set a new 58kg British under-23 snatch record of 85kg, her 317th British record in total across three bodyweight categories since 2007.

The award is made to the outstanding young sportsperson of the year, who is aged 16 or under on 1 January 2010, selected from nominations made to the BBC and by sports governing bodies via the Youth Sport Trust. Previous winners include Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott and Andy Murray.

The winner will be announced live at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year show taking place this year at Birmingham’s LG Arena on Sunday 19 December. The show will be presented by Sue Barker, Gary Lineker and Jake Humphrey.

In addition to Young Sports Personality of the Year there will also be awards for:

Sports Personality of the Year

Team of the Year

Coach of the Year

Overseas Sports Personality of the Year

Lifetime Achievement

Helen Rollason Award

Sports Unsung Hero

Following last week’s win of Best Arts Documentary at the 2010 Griersons British Documentary Awards, BBC Two today announced that its flagship arts documentary strand, Arena, has commissioned a new film celebrating the life and career of one of Britain’s best-loved artists and entertainers, Rolf Harris.

Having famously painted the Queen’s portrait, Rolf’s taking on an even more challenging project, painting a series of pictures inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, working with a remarkable series of women: supermodel Lilly Cole, soap starlet Emer Kelly, actress Dervla Kirwan, daughter of rock royalty Lizzy Jagger and his beloved wife Alwen. Now 80, Rolf is starring in a BBC Arena, directed by multi-award-winning director Vikram Jayanti.

The BBC’s Commissioning Editor, Mark Bell, said: “For nearly 60 years Rolf Harris has been sharing his infectious enthusiasm for art and music with us on British television, he is a real national treasure and this Arena promises to be an enlightening and richly entertaining film about a remarkable cultural figure.”

As these daring paintings progress from the sittings through to completion, the film branches off into the many landmarks of Rolf’s long career as a singer and musician, as an artist, and as a public personality beloved in Britain, Australia and Canada.

It’s more than a retrospective celebration of Rolf’s 57 years as a popular entertainer. We see Rolf as he’s never been seen before, in an intimate exploration of the relationship between the showman we all know and the man himself.

The feature-length documentary mines the BBC archives, but the action is today, as the ageless Rolf maintains his unstoppable momentum. We see him mobbed by art fans, rocking the 2010 Glastonbury crowds, and playing a big outdoor concert in Vancouver – all in the last few months.

The result is a wildly entertaining insight into what it takes to become a national treasure, with an extraordinary painting project at its heart, and with five fascinating, thought-provoking relationships between the artist and his models.

BBC’s Children in Need today announced more exciting acts taking part in the seven-hour live extravaganza on Friday 19 November, BBC One at 7pm.

Viewers on the night will be treated to:

An exclusive mini-soap episode in which the residents of Walford hit the cobbles of Weatherfield and Rovers regulars turn up on Albert Square – all for Children in Need.

Pop songstress Kylie Minogue performing her new single “Better Than Today” live in the studio

Welsh legend Tom Jones singing live at Television Centre.

A Strictly Come Dancing special pitching the Saturday’s Rochelle Wiseman against McFly’s Harry Judd.

A Come Dine With Me special featuring Dragons’ Den stars Peter Jones, Duncan Bannatyne, Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis.

Also announced is Fearne Cotton joining Sir Terry Wogan at 10.30pm to present the second half of the show and Reggie Yates presenting live coverage from the Odyssey Arena, Belfast.

Scotland’s biggest naval project of its time – a medieval feat of engineering to rival the construction of the QE2 – is set to “sail again” in the 21st century.

Great Michael – a 16th century “monster” ship which launched an international arms race – is going to sail again.

Not in reality, though, but on screen, in a CGI reconstruction in the new BBC One Scotland series Making Scotland’s Landscape on Sunday 24 October.

The story of The Great Michael will feature on the television series and in an in-depth two-part profile of the story on BBC Radio Scotland, as part of the BBC Scotland’s Landscape season across TV, radio and online.

Produced by historian Louise Yeoman and presented by ship fanatic and comedian Susan Morrison, The Great Michael radio series will outline the construction of the monster ship and the first emergence of Scotland as a world-beating naval shipbuilder in the early 1500s, from a base on the East Coast – Newhaven, near Edinburgh.

Louise says: “The Great Michael was a special project for James IV, who wanted a truly impressive naval ship to impress the world and that’s what he got.

“Leith had a sandbar at its entrance so it couldn’t be made there, so Newhaven was literally created to make this ship. Newhaven, on the East Coast, was Scotland’s first world-beating shipyard.

“Great Michael was a monster of a ship of around 1,000 tonnes and possibly took up to 72 acres of wood to create. And it would have towered over the houses of Newhaven.”

Presenter Susan Morrison says: “I’m from a shipbuilding family. My Dad worked on the QE2 and Great Michael must have been of an equivalent scale for that time – an amazing feat of medieval technology.”

Louise adds: “Great Michael would spark an international arms race with the jealous monarchs of Europe. She was a revolutionary ship – building her was a massive international project like running a space project. The amazing thing was that it wasn’t one of the European superpowers doing it – it was Scotland. Scotland’s excellence in shipbuilding begins here on the Forth.”

Historians have often thought that it rotted away in a foreign dock but evidence, from French naval documents quoted in the radio series, reveals that the ship became a significant weapon in the war of the French fleet against the Spanish.

Louise continues: “With her crew of 300 drawn from burghs all over Scotland and internationally, never mind all the troops she could carry, she was a fabulously expensive proposition but James had thought of that. He persuaded the French King to pay for Great Michael’s services against England – to hire her off him but this meant that when France went to war, he had to go to war. This would be fatal.

“Great Michael was only used once in anger in Scottish service – sailing round towards France as the naval back-up in the Flodden campaign, she was sent to cause trouble in England’s backyard in Ireland by attacking Carrickfergus, which she did – firing on the town and sending in her landing party. But by the time she arrived in the main theatre of operations off France, James IV was dead and a storm scattered the French and Scottish fleets.

“Great Michael, now renamed La Grant Nef d’Escoce – the Great Ship of Scotland became the flagship of the vice admiral of Brittany and sailed at the head of the Brittany squadron when they blockaded the Spanish castle of Fuenterrabía in the Basque country.

“Thanks to a statement by the Scottish writer George Buchanan, commentating later in the 16th century, people have assumed that Great Michael was simply left to rot but this was not the case. It’s even possible that in 1523 she returned briefly to Scotland when her commander was asked to arrange the safe return of the regent of Scotland (the duke of Albany, regent for James V) from France – sailing round from Great Michael’s home port in Brittany, to Dumbarton.

“If they did, this would only have been appropriate that Scotland’s first world-beating feat of naval architecture would briefly visit the scene of Scotland’s future glories, it’s a wonderful picture to think of the most beautiful ship in the Renaissance world, made in Scotland, sailing up the Clyde.”

Making Scotland’s Landscape, Sunday 24 October at 8pm on BBC One Scotland, and the two-part series The Great Michael will start on BBC Radio Scotland on November 29.

Television viewers will next week get the chance to catch up on the progress of the 13 lions involved in Europe’s biggest-ever cat rescue earlier this year. BBC Inside Out (Yorkshire and Lincolnshire) on BBC One at 7.30pm on Monday 25 October, returns to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster to investigate how the lions have fared since February when they were moved from miserable conditions in a Romanian zoo.

Presenting the programme is the BBC’s One Show nature expert, Mike Dilger, who said: “Eight months ago, this small piece of Yorkshire was the epicentre for one of the most amazing animal rescue stories of modern times. Thirteen lions were flown half way across Europe to a new home just a few miles from the centre of Doncaster. It was a highly dangerous mercy mission. Now I’m back to pick up where I left off with the new Pride of Yorkshire.”

The BBC Inside Out documentary team first reported on the rescue in February when the 13 animals – who were kept in cramped and antiquated conditions in Oradea Zoo in Western Romania – were re-housed in a nine-acre enclosure at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park. A public appeal raised £150,000 for their removal from Romania.

The animals had spent all their lives in cages with concrete floors that measured four metres by three metres. They had never set foot on grass or soil – and during their years of confinement were suffering from a lack of stimulation.

Mike Dilger said: “The plight of these proud animals touched a real chord with the British public. The lions had spent all their lives in miserable conditions, crammed into cages just a few metres square, in an old communist-era zoo in Oradea in Western Romania.

“The pictures shocked people back home – and a mission to rescue 13 of the Romanian lions was launched.”

During a tense 24 hours, the animals were tranquilised and put into crates and moved from Oradea to Budapest in Hungary. They were then flown from the Hungarian capital and taken to Doncaster.

The animals spent the first few months of their new existence in quarantine but were eventually released into their enclosure in May – where cameras capture them taking their first footsteps on a surface other than concrete.

The BBC team also documents the extensive veterinary treatment undertaken by the pride over the last few months – including the time one young lion is placed inside a mobile MRI scanner to determine why he is walking so badly, and another occasion when the eldest lion undergoes a visit from a vet for dentistry work.

Finally, the team return to Oradea to see if conditions have changed for the remaining animals and discover that plans have been drawn up for a new zoo at Oradea at a cost of almost £3.5m.

BBC Inside Out (Yorkshire and Lincolnshire) can be seen on BBC One at 7.30pm on Monday 25 October, or on the BBC iplayer the following day.

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