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British Library Broadcast News Service

ucylcjh13 February 2015

Guest blog post from:  Elizabeth Lawes, Subject Librarian: Fine Art, History of Art & Film Studies, UCL Library Services.

For Art and Film Studies students, newspapers are an excellent source of exhibition and film reviews, interviews, obituaries etc. Alongside this wealth of text based resources, I am often asked the best place to find recent multimedia material. On a fact finding mission to find out about News and multimedia resources at the BL, I attended a workshop on the Television and Broadcast News Service , now available in the recently established St Pancras Newsroom.

The British Library has been collecting printed news since 1869 but, with many publications developing significant online content, has branched out into archiving .uk websites as part of the Legal Deposit UK Web Archive. This archive includes many news based sites and can be accessed on computers in the BL Reading Room (the smaller Open UK Web Archive is a collection of selected websites archived since 2003 with permissions to make freely available online). In addition to the web archives, in 2010 the BL started recording television and radio news broadcasts from channels free to air in the UK; to date, approximately 50,000 news programmes have been recorded from 22 channels and, currently, 60 hours of television and 22 hours of radio are being recorded every day. Channels include BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Al-Jazeera English, France 24, CNN, and Sky News. Often, programmes are available within hours, or even minutes, of broadcast. At least two channels are recorded 24/7, allowing the tracking of breaking news. During significant news events (e.g. the death of Osama Bin Laden), every channel is blanket recorded on a 24 hour basis.

Copyright restrictions mean that the searchable archive can only be accessed onsite at the British Library via the Broadcast News Service, but details of the content can be accessed via the BL’s main catalogue. Following recent updates to the CLA licence, multimedia materials are subject to the same controls as printed materials; it is entirely feasible that the BL will soon be dealing with requests from researchers for extracts of up to 5% of a news broadcast for use in their research. They have yet to devise a practical way to comply.