BBC tells Tony Blackburn to 'down Periscope' after he streams live video at Broadcasting House
Tony Blackburn might seem an unlikely early adopter for Periscope, the new video streaming app which allows users to broadcast live across the world.
But the veteran DJ, 72, has become an evangelist for the Twitter tool – despite nervous BBC bosses asking Blackburn to “down Periscope” after he sent a live video from Broadcasting House.
Launched last month, Periscope lets users broadcast live, unedited video feeds, which can be shot from iPhones and iPads.
Viewers can follow a live stream through smartphones or laptops and send instant comments back to the feed’s creator. The films are archived for just 24 hours afterwards.
Jamie Oliver and Roger Federer have used the app to send behind-the-scenes videos. But the Twitter-owned service has attracted controversy.
HBO is taking action over Periscope piracy after users live-streamed episodes of Game of Thrones. Women have complained of men broadcasting leering videos of their bodies.
For Blackburn, the hardest working pensioner on British radio who presents on six different stations, Periscope has opened up a new, direct form of interaction with his listeners.
“A friend told me about it and I started broadcasting and I got all these messages,” the Radio 2 Pick of the Pops host said. “I think it’s amazing. It’s like having your own TV station on a worldwide basis.
“I was driving past the Regents Park Zoo showing people the heads of the giraffes and I had about 1,800 viewers within about four minutes. Then I showed people around the BBC. I can message with someone watching in Australia and put them directly on air.”
However Blackburn ran into a little trouble with his unauthorised tour of the BBC’s Broadcasting House HQ. “I did Periscope from within the BBC without knowing we weren’t meant to do it. It’s a new thing so I asked if we were allowed to do it? They said they were looking in to it. I won’t do it again until it’s allowed.”
The BBC updated its staff social media guidelines earlier this month but Periscope’s arrival came too late to be included. A spokesman said: “We are starting to explore the opportunities and challenges Periscope can bring to audiences.
“We don’t want to stop Tony Blackburn using Periscope but it’s new technology so we are conducting structured experiments and pilots to make sure we get it right for the future. If these are successful, we will look at how we build Periscope into our output.”
BBC Sport has experimented with Periscope broadcasts from the studio gallery at the Masters Golf tournament. Journalists including Technology Correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones have streamed approved films.
Blackburn has spread the Periscope gospel to his Radio 2 colleagues. He said: “I mentioned it to Jeremy Vine and he was fascinated by it. Imagine a man of my age showing the youngsters how it works.
“You could put yourself on air live but I don’t think the BBC necessarily wants you to do that. You could show preparation for a programme. It’s useful to promote Pick of the Pops. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”
The DJ has broadcast live video driving over the Dartford-Thurrock River Crossing: “There was a nice sunset and people liked that.” He added: “You’ve got to be careful because it does eat up a lot of data. Like all these technologies it’s open to abuse. It is very addictive. You’ve got to be careful. I think it will expand. It gives everyone the opportunity to become a reporter.”
HBO accused Periscope of being a tool for “mass copyright infringement” after users live-streamed leaked episodes which had been circulated on preview DVDs. Twitter maintains that the Periscope app complies with US copyright law.
Created by Stanford University graduate Kayvon Beykpour as “the closest thing to mobile teleportation”, Periscope was snapped up by Twitter for $100m. Beykpour hoped the app would be used to the show the world live scenes from street protests in trouble spots.
Blackburn admitted that the live broadcasts can be more mundane. “I was watching a feed of someone sitting in a car, then he had to get out and go to the supermarket,” he said. “I’m watching an empty car for ten minutes, thinking ‘you sad 72 year-old man, you’re watching a car in Los Angeles.’ But there were other people watching too so I wasn’t the only one.”
A rival live streaming app Meerkat, is now signing up Android phone users.
Independent News Service