BBC launches ‘virtual’ local radio stations

The BBC has launched the first of a string of planned ‘virtual’ local radio stations, as part of a plan to share infrastructure and equipment across multiple sites and save money.

BBC Radio Northampton is the first of four initial virtual station launches, with the studio’s underlying equipment and infrastructure moved to a central, shared, location. This will allow audio files to be stored, streamed, mixed and processed in a remote data centre, in real-time, said the BBC.

The scheme is part of the BBC’s Virtual Local Radio (ViLoR) project, developed by BBC Technology, with BBC Radio Suffolk, BBC Essex and BBC Three Counties Radio to follow as the next three virtual studio launches.

“This is an excellent example of BBC innovation helping us find new, lower cost and more flexible ways of providing the technology our programme makers need to deliver great Local Radio to our audiences from the local community. Northampton is a first, but significant, step toward us proving the potential for a fully virtualised BBC Local Radio network, and I’m sure we’ll see the industry begin to adopt a similar approach,” said BBC interim CTO Peter Coles.

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