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Your guide to the BBC News Player

BBC News and Current Affairs programmes in the News Player

What is the BBC News Player?

The BBC News Player brings you up-to-the minute reports in video and audio from BBC News. You can watch or listen to:

  • All the latest stories
  • Live coverage from BBC News 24 of major breaking news stories at home or abroad
  • Live coverage of big events such as the Budget or the D-Day commemorations
  • The One, Six and Ten O'clock news bulletins, both live and on demand, story-by-story
  • The latest headlines from BBC News 24, constantly updated
  • In depth - video and audio reports that explain the background to a story
  • Sections on science and technology, entertainment, business and health.

How do I get the service?

The player is available to BBC News Online users who have a narrowband (dial-up modem) or broadband connection.

It supports both the Real Player format and, for the first time, the Windows Media Player format (see Is there a minimum specification to access the service? below).

You launch the player by going to any News Online page and clicking the "Watch BBC news in video" or "Latest news in video and audio" button at the top of the page. For more information on BBC broadband services go to

How do I navigate around the service?

The service is divided into sections. Use either the drop-down index on the right or "Select an Index" below each individual story to navigate around. The News Headlines tab at the top left also acts as a "Home" button and will always return you to the News Player's main headlines.

You can also access other BBC video and audio content in the Sport Player, Weather Player and Radio Player. To do so, click on the tabs at the top of the News Player.

How do I watch video or listen to audio?

When you have launched the News Player, you will find a list of main headlines on the right. The length of each clip is displayed. If the item is audio, it will say so. By clicking on the headline, the story you want to watch will be displayed on the left.

You can start, pause or stop the video by using the video or audio control buttons immediately below the video screen.

You can also change the size of the video by using the buttons underneath the video control buttons.

Normal Video + Text gives you the video window and associated text.

Normal Video Only gives you the video window without the text.

Double Video Only gives you double-size video without the text.

Full Screen Video Only makes the video full screen (Real only). Follow the on screen instructions to return to normal viewing size.

To watch the video in full screen using Windows Media Player, right click on the video window, go to "zoom" and select "full screen". Press "escape" to return to normal viewing size.


Is there a minimum specification to access the service?

The minimum browser requirements needed to access this BBC service are:

  • Netscape 5 and above, Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 and above, or Opera 7 and above. (Other browsers may work with the BBC News Player, however the BBC is unable to guarantee their compatibility)
  • Javascript must be enabled
  • If cookies are enabled your viewing settings will be remembered for future visits. If cookies are not enabled, Media Selector will prompt you to confirm your settings at each visit
  • Popup blocking mechanisms should be set to allow popups to be launched from pages. You will also need to have one of the following media players installed on your system:
  • RealOne version 9 or above, available free via
  • Microsoft Windows Media Player version 9 or above, available free from

For information on system requirements for these players please check the websites listed above.

Some advanced News Player functionality will not be available when using Windows Media Player with non-Microsoft web browsers. This does not affect Real Player, and basic viewing of clips is available on any browser/player combination listed above.

How do I change whether I use Windows Media Player or Real Player?

If you have both Windows Media Player 9 (and above) and Real Player 9 installed on your PC then you can choose which player you would like to set as your default player for BBC News content.

To do this you need to click on the link "Change how I view or hear this" in the bottom left hand corner of the pop-up News Player.

From here you use the check boxes and the OK button to make your choice. There is no limit on how regularly you can switch between players.

You can also click this link to choose whether you would like to watch the video in high quality (256k and above) or standard quality (below 256k.)

When I click on the link, the BBC News Player does not launch

You should confirm that you have Javascript enabled on your browser (see the browser help file to find out how to do this). You should also check that any popup blocking mechanisms you have installed on your computer, including Microsoft Service Pack 2, are not set to deny popups launched from pages.

When I click on the link, the BBC News Player launches but no video or audio plays

You should confirm that you have one of the media player versions listed above and that you have chosen to access News Player with it (you can confirm/modify your preference via the "change how I view or hear this (settings)" link at the bottom of the News Player window).

Media player pluggins are sometimes not available if you have installed or upgraded your browser since installing your chosen media player. In this instance reinstalling the latest version of your preferred media player and restarting your computer may help.

Alternatively, you may wish to seek technical support from your media player software vendor (websites are listed above).

My video and audio does not play smoothly

There are many reasons why this might occur.

Your bandwidth may be being used by another application (or another computer, if your connection is via a home/office network). Your viewing experience will be affected if our servers are unable to deliver data to your computer quickly enough because of network congestion on your connection.

Downloading large files or using peer-to-peer applications while watching video, for example, may prevent you from being able to receive enough data to maintain a constant video stream.

If you do not believe your connection is being used by other applications or other people, check your media player has the correct bandwidth settings. See the following help pages for more advice.

Let us know what you think

If you would like to comment or have suggestions about this BBC service then you can contact us via the link below.

The News Player does not seem to work with Safari?

If you are using Safari on the Apple Mac, make sure you have RealPlayer 10 installed.

Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther) users: Make sure your system is up to date by choosing System Preferences from the Apple menu, then Software Update from the System Preferences window. This will update your system to 10.3.9 and will also update Safari to 1.3.2.

Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) users: Follow the same procedure as for Panther. This will update your system to 10.4.4 and will also update Safari to 2.0.3.

If you are still experiencing problems, try re-installing RealPlayer 10.

Which programmes are available?

The News Player currently offers a number of BBC News and Current Affairs programmes, Panorama, Question Time, Real Story, This World and Newsnight. We plan to add additional programmes in the future.

How can I find the programme I want?

There are two ways:

From within the News Player, type the name of the programme you require into the Search box.

From a programme's own website e.g.

Rights issues may prevent specific programmes from being made available. Again, subject to rights clearance, the programmes are also available live when they are first broadcast on television.

I am trying to watch a programme live, but can only see a link to the previous programme

You need to refresh or reload the programme's website or News Player just before the programme goes on air. If you do this, the Live Video link should appear.

Why do I see different video when I launch the programme?

In order to ensure the whole programme can be viewed, the automated playout system starts a few seconds before the start of the programme due to be broadcast.


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