BBC viewers have their say with mobiles and webcams

Viewers will be able to participate in BBC News TV programmes using 3G mobile handsets, webcams and voice-over-IP telephony from later this year.

The corporation has collaborated with video service provider All New Video to implement technologies that allow audiences to contribute their views using a range of devices.

Have Your Say, the BBC World current affairs opinions show affiliated with the BBC News website section of the same name, will be the first show to take advantage before the end of the year. Question Time and Newsnight will later be included in the rollout.

“Programmes have, for many years, used contributors on the phone from all over the world – this is a logical extension on that, given the new technologies now available,” BBC interactivity editor Vicky Taylor told

“We tried, on a small scale, to use webcam contributors on a BBC World programme during the World Cup, My World Cup, whereby fans in different coutries could join in a debate from their PCs from Korea to Brazil, and it really added to the debate and experience.

“For programmes such as Have Your Say, it will enhance the visual experience; for the TV audience, we can see people speaking, not just hear them. It also allows us, using the video broadband connection, to reach places and people we would not normally have been able to.”

Ms Taylor said programmes would continue to allow viewer participation through “traditional technology” like telephone calls. Question Time already invites viewer response via SMS messaging, with a selection of views aired on an in-view Ceefax page during broadcast.

Sky News now offers viewers similar options for participation through its revised, 8pm interactive slot. The web portion of the BBC’s system will involve placing embedded video conferencing software on for use by anyone with a webcam and a broadband connection.

“Once users are connected, the participants will be greeted with an interactive media response (IMR),” All New Video said in a statement. “Using the telephone keypad, participants will be offered the choice of recording a video or voice message for the show, or alternatively connecting directly into the show for a two-way voice or video conversation with the presenters.”