BBC Radio phases out RealMedia

Thursday, October 8 2009, 14:13 BST

By Andrew Laughlin,

BBC Radio has revealed plans to phase out the use of RealMedia technology from its live streaming and Listen Again services.

Writing on the BBC Internet Blog, the corporation's future media controller Mark Kortekaas said that the organisation is always reviewing its services against four main criteria: reach, quality, impact and value.

"When streaming services are evaluated against these measures, we take into account where different formats might need to be implemented, evolved or deprecated," he said.

"The streaming service provided in RealMedia format has been with us at the BBC since 1996. At the time it was the best option available, but more recently alternative methods of delivery have become just as important. These include Windows Media and Flash.

"When evaluating services with our public value tests, which include the costs of the services, we came to the decision that RealMedia was something we needed to phase out."

RealMedia technology will now be removed from all online streams and on-demand links of BBC Radio programming towards a deadline of March 30, 2010.

The process will start with all National radio networks, followed by the Nations services, such as BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Radio Wales, and then UK Local Radio stations.

All legacy RealMedia streams of National station programming will remain available until next March when Windows Media for Live streams will take their place.

However, the "more restrictive" nature of Nations and Local Radio services means that RealMedia will have to be switched off for these stations rather than phased out.

This approach will cause temporary disruption to the Listen Live service for these networks and also mean that the Listen Again function will not return until November.

All radio streams on BBC iPlayer's lower bandwidth option will also revert to a new Flash offering at 48kbps, which the corporation hopes to have completed by the end of this month.

BBC World Service will remain available in Flash, RealMedia and Windows Media both for live streams and on-demand, except on BBC iPlayer where it will be Flash-exclusive.