BBC red button service to be reduced after BBC Trust review

A BBC Trust review into BBC red button interactive service has concluded that distribution costs need to be reduced despite being the UK’s most used interactive TV service.

The BBC Trust review into the service has said that it needs to become value for money and should do this by reducing coverage across all genres and focus on the areas which it strives in. An average of 12.7 million people use the service each week to find out the latest news, weather, lottery results and the latest entertainment news.


The red button service on BBC television channels is available across all platforms, which also gives the option of watching live coverage of various sports and music events. The review has found that 5 million red button users do not use the BBC’s iPlayer online service to catch up on BBC programming. For 2009/10 the cost for the red button service stood at ?39.3 million although cost per user is low compared to that of other services, standing at 6.4 pence per week.


The problem that the Trust has highlighted is the distribution costs, which is more than ?20 million to deliver the service to different television platforms. Diane Coyle who led the BBC Trustee review has said that the service helps the BBC promote its public service. “Red Button reaches a large audience and is effective in helping the BBC promote some of its public purposes. It is not as popular as the BBC’s other interactive services such as the iPlayer, however, and its overall costs – particularly for distribution – are substantial. The Trust will therefore look to the BBC Executive to reduce costs when and where possible by focussing on the aspects of the service that are most successful to date.”


The BBC Executives have also looked at the role of the red button service in the future by providing an access point to IPTV and broadcast content. Coyle says “The Trust notes the Executive’s statements on the future role for Red Button in the delivery of IPTV and will monitor this as the IPTV market develops.”