British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

BBC Chronicle Project Blog

The audio-visual archives of the BBC contain a wealth of material gathered since it was founded in the 1920’s but it remains largely inaccessible, held on film or videotape and indexed to serve the needs of programme-makers within the BBC. ‘Chronicle’ is a new project that explores how material from the BBC’s extensive archive of news coverage of Northern Ireland can be made available for use in further and higher education, combining digitised film and video with tools which can be used to search and tag coverage to be used in research or teaching.

The live service is available to registered users from educational establishments that have signed the sub-licence. Please visit

This image may be used only for promotion of this project, please do not reproduce - rights held by the BBC.

Delivered through a partnership between the JISC-funded Strategic Content Alliance, the British University Film and Video Council (BUFVC) and the BBC, ‘Chronicle’ is one of several initiatives from the Archive Development group at the BBC. Its goal is to explore ways in which researchers and teachers can be given access to material from the archive while in return delivering public value back in the form of improved data and information about its own collections for the BBC.

Chronicle will provide Authenticated Users with access to digitised copies of selected news and current affairs material covering Northern Ireland and The Troubles, along with web-based tools allowing it to be searched, viewed and annotated.

Television news and current affairs from the Sixties and Seventies

This period was chosen in part because there is very little audiovisual material covering Northern Ireland politically or culturally in depth from that time, and during preliminary discussions several organisations and individuals in the academic sector indicated a `significant need’ for such historically significant materials.

There is also an archival need to digitise the material from the period: between 1969 and1981 news material was recorded on 16mm film and a significant proportion of this footage is now in need of preservation while coverage from 1981 onward was recorded on Beta or Digibeta tape and at much less risk of deterioration.

This image may be used only for promotion of this project, please do not reproduce - rights held by the BBC.

Academic Engagement

The project will be shaped by an Academic Steering Group made up of scholars from participating institutions including the University of Westminster, Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Ulster, St Mary’s University College and Royal Holloway University of London. Members suggest material to be digitised, looking at specific events like the 1980 hunger strikes or broader themes like powersharing, as well as reviewing the academic value of the project as it runs.

A beta version of the pilot service will be made available to the universities in the steering group from October 2011. During this ‘soft launch’, staff and students will be encouraged to test the pilot service’s functionality and provide metadata and expert annotation to supplement BBC catalogue records with details of events, locations and people, anecdotal interpretations, contextualisation, and analysis through historical hindsight.

It is recognised that some material may be considered historically and politically sensitive and selection will be carefully monitored and chosen according to BBC editorial guidelines, while user-generated metadata will be moderated, and provision is being made within the tools provided for material to be taken offline for review.

During the ‘soft launch’, staff and students will also evaluate the user interface and consider the most effective ways in which they might interact with the material and metadata in an academic context.

Feedback given during the ‘soft launch’ period will be used to evaluate the service and feed into improvements made prior to full release in January 2012.

Universities represented in the Academic Steering Group

This image may be used only for promotion of this project, please do not reproduce - rights held by the BBC.

  • University of Westminster
  • Queens University Belfast
  • St Mary’s University College
  • Royal Holloway University of London
  • University of Ulster

Delicious Save this on Delicious |