BBC Big Screens: Broadcasting – Live Sites
There have never been more opportunities to view television content whether on 40 or 50 inch screens in your own home, computers and laptops and even the personal viewing on tiny screens of your mobile phone and now there are new opportunities for collective viewing on huge public screens. Anita Bhalla working out of BBC Birmingham at The Mailbox is the editor of BBC Big Screens and in our last event of 2009, she shared with Midland Centre members the story of the Big Screens across the UK.
Dorothy Hobson and Anita Bhalla outside BBC Mailbox
Currently, in conjunction with various partners, essentially, local authorities in Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Derby, Dover, Edinburgh, Greenwich, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Middles borough, Norwich, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Rotherham, Swansea, Swindon and Waltham Forest (who grant planning permission), and partner Lloyds TSB. The BBC controls the technology of the screens and transmits the output including BBC news, weather, sport, local and national shorts, community film and video output. Some cities have local input during events and activities and viewers can either congregate for a long viewing session like the transmission of The Barber of Seville from The Royal Opera House last summer, or glimpse student animation films as the hurry by. Interactive gaming has proved one of the successes showing the complete lack of self-consciousness of those playing in public in front of the massive screens. The project is working up to the 2012 Olympics when the screens will be involved in the transmission of the games and the provision of public screens was written into the original bid. Opportunities for collective viewing and participation are part of the changing face of media. While social networks indicate the wish for sharing experiences, this experiment is one example of the strength of existing technology being used to enable viewers to enjoy and share participation in public moments.
By Dorothy Hobson