Channel 4’s playout woes continue with today’s edition of Steph’s Packed Lunch falling off air.
The broadcaster’s playout operation remains based at its disaster recovery facility following the incident at its main playout centre in the Red Bee Media building on 25th September.
In the month since being displaced from the Red Bee Media site, Channel 4’s TV services have suffered a number of technical issues.
At 2.06pm, minutes before Steph’s Packed Lunch was due to end, the picture froze – and this image remained on screen for a couple of minutes, before a block of ads appeared.
About a minute-and-a-half later, the frozen image reappeared and remained for almost a further eight minutes before being replaced by a ‘Programmes Continue Shortly’ caption.
At 2.23pm, the planned edition of Countdown got under way.
There was no on air apology. But Channel 4 did issue a statement on social media at 2.35pm:
We’re sorry about our tech hiccup this afternoon and hope you can now view as normal. Further updates will be posted here.Channel 4 (Twitter)
Just over a week ago, Channel 4 said it was building a new playout facility, which it hopes to bring online by mid-November.
And more bad news for Channel 4 followed later in the day, when Ofcom issued a further statement regarding the broadcaster’s technical back-up arrangements:
After a long outage, subtitles have now been restored on many Channel 4 programmes. However, signing and audio description are still not available on the broadcaster’s channels.Ofcom
We remain deeply concerned about the scale of the technical failures experienced by Channel 4 and the length of time taken to fix them. These problems have caused deep upset and frustration among people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or partially sighted.
Channel 4 did not have strong backup measures in place, and it should not have taken several weeks to provide a clear, public plan and timeline for fixing the problem.
We expect Channel 4 to meet – or exceed – the timings it has set for restoring all its subtitling and other access services.
When this is done, Ofcom will review the equipment and facilities that Channel 4 had – and now has – in place, so that lessons can be learned.
We will consider what action might be required to make sure broadcasters do not find themselves in this situation again, and that subtitles, signing and audio description remain reliable even when problems occur with the infrastructure used to provide them.