Researching television and radio news

A radio

We have been recording television and radio news programmes broadcast in the UK since May 2010. These programmes are available on the Broadcast News service, which is only accessible in our Reading Rooms.

How do I find a television or radio news programme?

You can search Broadcast News by keyword, channel or date. The search box on the front page is for keyword searches. This will search across the programme descriptions and subtitles, where available. Please note that not all of the channels that we record make subtitles available, and where there is a programme description only this will usually have a generic description (e.g. “The latest headlines from around the world”) taken from the electronic programme guide. For searches by channel or date, or for combined searches, use the Advance Search option. Please note it is not possible to combine keyword searching with other search options.

When you have entered a search, a page of results will appear. The most recent programmes will appear first, but the Sort By option lets you re-order results by title, oldest date first, or relevance. The Refine option on the left-hand side of the Results page lets you refine your search by date, date range, channel or medium. Clicking on a thumbnail image will take you to the selected programme. Clicking on Jump to Reference will take you to the point where a particular word is spoken (where subtitles are available). The positions of further instances of the keyword in the programme appear as yellow markers on the timeline at the bottom of the player.

How do I play a television or radio news programme?

Once you have selected a programme and it has finished loading, click on the play button at the centre of the screen or on the control bar beneath the screen. You can also scroll through the programme by holding down the mouse pointer over the bar at the bottom of the control panel and dragging to the desired place in the programme. To view a video full screen, click on the screen icon to the bottom right of the control panel. Please note that some of the programmes may take a short while to load, owing to the size of some of the digital files.

What do I do if a video or radio recording won’t play?

If there is a fault with a video or radio programme recording, please note the ID number (contained in the URL or web address, e.g. programme 20483 will be noted as and inform Reading Room staff (or email If the fault is not immediately rectifiable there may be a delay of up to 24 hours before we are able to generate a fresh recording.

How do I use the subtitles for further searching?

If a programme has subtitles, these will be presented on the programme page to the right of the video player. If you have searched for a particular keyword the subtitle stream will point to the word(s) selected. Clicking on that word, or any other subtitle, will take you to the point in the video where the word occurs. As the video plays, the subtitles will play alongside it. You can scroll through the subtitles independently of the video by unchecking the Track Player box at the foot of the subtitles. You can search for a word within the subtitles by using the Filter search box, with the results appearing as markers on the timeline at the bottom of the player or as a defined set of results (with times) in the sidebar.

Why are there errors and typos in the subtitles?

Subtitles for television news programmes are created only when the programme is broadcast, and are generated in real time, through a mixture of speech-to-text technologies and typists who correct the raw text. Owing to the speed at which the subtitles are produced, some errors and typos will be made and will therefore appear in the programmes that we capture.

How do I use the thumbnails?

Below the video screen on a programme page (adjacent to the metadata tab) you will find a series of thumbnail images (‘frames’). You can then scroll through the programme at 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 or 60-second intervals to find a particular image. Clicking on the image will then take you to that point in the programme on the video screen.

Can I download or take away a copy of a programme?

It is not permitted to download or take away copies of the programmes on Broadcast News, all of which are under copyright and can be viewed only in our Reading Rooms at dedicated terminals.

Can I access Broadcast News outside the British Library’s Reading Rooms?

Copyright restrictions prevent us from making this service available outside our premises.

Do you have news programmes from before May 2010?

We began recording programmes on 6 May 2010 (the day of the UK General Election). We hope to extend the programmes we make available through this service to earlier years, but at present it is confined to news programmes broadcast from May 2010 onwards.

Which news programmes do you have available?

We record news programmes from these channels: Television: Al Jazeera English, BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four, BBC News, BBC Parliament, Bloomberg, Channel 4, CNN, CCTV News, France 24, ITV1, NHK World, Russia Today/RT, Sky News; Radio: BBC London, BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 4, BBC Five Live, BBC World Service, LBC, talkSport.

Why do BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky News television programmes show at the top of searches?

UK terrestrial television and Sky News programmes are broadcast with subtitles, which we are able to capture and convert into word-searchable text. Other programmes i.e. from most satellite channels, do not come with subtitles, so word-searches will not pick up these programmes. Consequently UK terrestrial television and Sky News programmes will feature prominently in any keyword searches. Use the Advanced Search option to find such satellite channel programmes, by using the date search. We are working to improve the descriptions of programmes without subtitles for later developments of the Broadcast News service.

How do I cite a programme?

If you wish to identify a programme in-house, i.e. if reporting a faulty recording, or raising any issues with British Library staff (or email, please quote the ID number given in the URL or web address.

Example: in the URL, cite the number 23599

If you are citing a programme for publication, include the programme title, channel, transmission (tx.) date and time, as well as the ID number. All of this information is available on the programme page.

Example: ITV News at Ten & Weather, ITV, tx. 22/09/2011, 22:00, British Library ID 12250.

How quickly do the programmes you record appear on Broadcast News?

We are currently recording over sixty hours of news programming every day. If a programme is one that we have selected for capture, it will appear on the Broadcast News service within a couple of hours. Programme records can be found on the Sound and Moving Image catalogue and through Explore the British Library, but because these are not updated every day you will be able to find programmes on Broadcast News itself before they appear on our catalogues.

Why do you only have news programmes?

Broadcast News is designed as a specialist service for news programmes to complement our other news-related content to be found in our Newsroom. For information on where to find other kinds of television and radio programmes check with Reading Room staff or contact the relevant curators at movingimage@bl uk or We do have a substantial radio collection at the British Library, and we provide access to BBC television and radio programmes broadcast since 2007 through our BBC Catalogue onsite service.

How do you choose which programmes to record?

We currently capture around 40 hours of television news and 20 hours of radio news per day, selected from 22 channels available through Freeview or Freesat. We review the programme schedules every three months and may make alterations according to changes made by broadcasters or if new channels or key news programmes have appeared. If there is a major news event e.g. the London riots of 2011, we record extra programmes (usually all 24 hours of one day), across at least two channels for purposes of comparison.