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Frequently asked questions regarding the BBC's coverage of Germany 2006.

Please check the questions here before sending further queries using the form on the right.

TV COVERAGE

Q: Why are you only showing one England group game on TV?

A: The BBC and ITV share the live rights to broadcasting World Cup matches in the UK. In the first round, the BBC is showing the Paraguay game live, with the Trinidad & Tobago and Sweden matches on ITV. However, if England progress to the second round and quarter-final, those matches will be exclusively live on BBC. And if they get to the semis or final, both broadcasters will show it.

WATCHING ON BROADBAND

Aashish Chandarana, who oversees our broadband operation, has been writing about this issue on our editors' blog.

The answers to specific questions you have asked are below.

Q: Why is broadband viewing online restricted to UK residents?

A: The main reason is because the sports bodies, who hold the rights to events such as the World Cup, sell those rights on a country-by-country, or regional basis because that's the way they make the most money. In the case of the World Cup, where the BBC and ITV hold the UK rights, other broadcasters will be providing a similar service in their own territories.

Obviously the internet is a worldwide medium and we ensure that the bulk of our website is available to all, regardless of location. But as a public service organisation, which is funded by UK licence fee, BBC Sport's priority has to be the British domestic audience.

Q: How do you do this in practice?

A: We determine your location via the IP (Internet Protocol) address of your connection. From that, we can tell whether you are in the UK or not and whether you are entitled to see the content.

Q: But why can't you make it available overseas on a pay-per-view basis?

A: Rights are sold on a territory by territory basis. The total worldwide fee is estimated at 1.2 bn euros. So any attempt to get global reach would cost rather a lot!

We would have to charge so much no-one would take it up. That is before you even consider whether it is something we should be doing as the British Broadcasting Corporation, funded by people living in Britain, or indeed whether the rights holders would allow us to obtain the rights to so many territories.

Q: So how can I follow the games abroad?

A: There are our usual text services - but this year we are offering a new service - instant graphical replays of all the games and this will be available everywhere.

Q: The main appeal of watching on broadband is surely for people at work who can't access a TV. But won't most companies simply block this?

A: We make the content available freely on the internet within the UK. If your company chooses to block the service, that is its choice unfortunately. We have no call over a company's IT policy I'm afraid.

Q: What steps are you taking to ensure demand for this does not bring down the whole UK internet?

A: The BBC constantly works with the ISPs and the industry as a whole to make sure we don't impact on people's services.

As part of the BBC's long-term plans to deliver content to new platforms, we've been working with the industry to take measures that will help us deal with the levels of demand that these sorts of major events can generate.

Q: Is there anything IT managers in UK companies can do to restrict access to the BBC's live broadband coverage?

A: Yes. An IT manager may be able to block access to the streams from within a company's firewall.

Q: Will it cost anything? ie is this for all UK broadband users, or only licence-fee paying UK broadband users?

A: It is a free service. You do however need a TV licence.

In the long run, it may well be that the government decides the TV licence needs to be replaced by a more relevant funding model, one not solely based on television ownership. For instance, it is considering things such as a tax on personal computers.

Q: What quality will you be streaming at?

A: At least at 256kbps.

We are still trying to see what works best. While we appreciate some people have really fast connections, not everyone has yet and it is a question of making sure we get the balance right between providing the highest quality that is still widely accessible.

Naturally, we are trying to make sure as many people as possible can watch it (because we are funded by all licence fee payers).

The difficult thing with streaming online is being able to handle a large number of concurrent users. This also affects our decisions on quality (ie the higher the quality, the fewer concurrent users we can serve).

Q: How will the content be streamed? Will it be done through a medium (Quicktime) or through something slightly less Mac-usable such as Windows Media or RealPlayer?

A: The BBC in the early days of the web, took a decision to work with Real Player. At the time and given the state of the industry, it made sense. One of the main reasons behind offering content in Real is that it works on many platforms (e.g. Windows, Mac, Linux). In 2004, we took the decision to start supporting Windows Media as well.

There is always going to be a debate on why we picked those two formats. However, we all know that Windows is the most prevalent operating system out there and when you unpack your new machine, Windows Media Player is already on there. Real gives us the ability to deliver to other operating systems.

Q: Are the games only going to be shown on the day or can they be accessed for up to 7 days like 'listen again'?

A: We will offer live simulcast of all the BBC games and then four minutes of highlights of all matches available throughout the tournament and for a period afterwards. We have to abide by rights holders restrictions.

Q: How can you assure us the service won't break down because of all the people trying to access it?

We are working towards making this available to as many users as we can and to make it as stable as possible. We have already made a huge quantity of live sport available successfully and hope to continue this for the World Cup.

Q: I get constant rebuffering when I try and access video on the web. Is this your fault or mine?

A: There could be many different reasons behind this. One reason could be poor performance of your computer and its connection speed. Or it may be the fault of your ISP (Internet Service Provider). Or it maybe because there are so many people accessing the service, there are problems serving it at our end.

We are actively pursuing a number of ways to minimise this type of problem. For instance by multi-casting the stream. This means we transfer it directly to an ISP and they broadcast it, which reduces the direct load on our servers. But constant rebuffering can be down to a number of reasons and we would need more information. Please contact us using the feedback form on our audio video help pages, stating the type of connection you have (i.e. are you at work or at home and what speed your service is).

Q: I do live in the UK but I often get an error message saying I don't..

A: It may be your service provider may be non UK, or not on the BBC's list of UK ISPs.

HIGH DEFINITION TV

Q: What do I need to do to watch the World Cup in HD TV?

A: You need a High Definition Television Set and a High defintion feed going in to it. You can get this on Digital Satellite and on some Digital Cable services. There is also a technical trial for a limited number of Freeview users.

WATCHING ON BIG SCREENS AROUND THE UK

Q: Where will you be showing the games?

A: There will be permanent fixed screens in the following city centres:

Manchester Exchange Square
Birmingham Chamberlain Square
Liverpool Clayton Square
Hull Queen Victoria Square
Leeds Millennium Square
Rotherham All Saints Square
Bradford Centenary Square

They will show all BBC & ITV England games.

There is also a temporary screen in Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, which will show all the games.

Two big screens will also be touring the country. See the television section of this guide for more details.



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