If you have an internet radio, you’ve probably heard an announcement from the BBC saying it’s about to switch off its service in 2023. If you rely on your internet radio because you can’t get decent DAB or FM reception, this could be a massive pain. Is there anything you can do? Let’s find out.
Why is the BBC switching off internet radio?
To be clear, the BBC isn’t switching off all of its internet radio services. It’s switching off a service called Shoutcast, which is used by a lot of older internet radios and some newer models too. The BBC will continue to use two other streaming standards called HLS and DASH.
If you’re hearing a message on your radio saying your stream is about to be cut off, it uses the Shoutcast technology.
Why is the BBC doing this? Frankly, it looks like a cost-cutting exercise and a data-gathering one.
To quote the BBC’s own information page on this decision, it says:
As well as delivering better value, it will allow us to understand more on how our content is consumed. This forms part of our strategy for BBC Sounds and is important to help us improve the services we offer to our listeners.
It seems like yet another efforts to drive us towards the dismal BBC Sounds app.
Is there any way to continue getting BBC stations on my internet radio?
On its information page, the BBC rather unhelpfully states that you should contact your radio manufacturer. If you take a look out of your window right now you might see a buck flying past.
It appears the radio manufacturers were informed of this decision in the summer of 2022. But it’s not a simple job for the radio manufacturers to retrofit newer standards, especially on equipment that may now be a decade old or more.
For example, Cambridge Audio has put a statement on its website saying that:
We are currently investigating if anything can be done from our side to ensure that once the Shoutcast streams have ceased in mid-2023 our older range of network streamers can continue to play these stations. We are unable to comment on if this will be possible at the moment, but we will update this page when we have more information.
In my opinion, the BBC has shafted the radio manufacturers, who are now going to be dealing with lots of angry customers.
Whether or not you’ll be able to continue receiving BBC stations on your current hardware will be down to your manufacturer’s ability to pull a rabbit out of the hat. It may be possible the firmware upgrade will solve the problem, but I would consider that unlikely, especially on devices that are more than a couple of years old.
There are, of course, other ways of getting BBC Radio over the internet. For example, Amazon’s range of Echo speakers all play BBC stations and they won’t be affected by the switch off. Likewise you can play via any web browser on the BBC Sounds website. The BBC Sounds app for smartphones and tablets also offers live radio.
However, it does seem the BBC is going to shove a whole load of internet radio hardware closer to the skip with this decision. Not least because where the BBC leads, others will follow.
For me (living outside the UK) the worse thing that the BBC did in order to push BBC Sounds was to only make some podcasts available four weeks after they were available on BBC Sounds.
The ones they chose for this were naturally The News Quiz and The Now Show both of which were comedy shows commenting on the events of the previous week (or, for non-BBC Sounds users, the events of 4-5 weeks ago).
How can I find out which streaming standard a particular internet radio uses? They don’t seem to mention it in manuals etc.
It would be really useful to know which devices in the future will still be able to carry BBC radio. I listen to BBC radio 3 all day every day apart from 6 radio at the weekend and I’ll miss having a radio-type thing on my sideboard. Thank you for mentioning Amazon Echo, I’ll check that out. Will other stations around the world be abandoning Shout cast too? Guess we’ll find out.
My internet radio definitely uses the DASH streaming system for BBC broadcasts and yet I still receive this message about “.. contacting radio manufacturer..” etc. So I am none the wiser whether I will be able to continue listening after mid 2023 !
PURE finally got back to me with this news:
“The following models will still continue to support BBC streams:
Also, future models should have no issues supporting the new format BBC stations will be streaming in.”
Sonos also plays BBC Sounds, I’m told a mate of mine is very happy with his.
I’ll probably hang on to my Pure Evoke as long as I can and then see. Or maybe I’ll just switch to another international classical music station out of spite.
Thanks, Stuart for that info. My internet radio is “Muvid”- which I believe is long obsolete. So, I will just have to wait and see what occurs!
Do you know what’s happening with others, eg Times Radio? (as far as classical stations go WQXR in New York is one of the best around and an excellent alternative to The Third Program – sorry, Radio 3)
The worst part is the BBC announcing 2 or 3 times a day about the change!
Even more! Drives me crazy, I find myself shouting, “I know, I know, you b******s!!”
Anyway, being an utter tech dunce, perhaps someone can suggest the best device or smart speaker to invest in. I’m quite happy with the sound I get from my Pure Evoke, so do I get another Pure product? Or Amazon Echo? Or something more upmarket like Sonos or Bose? I notice BBC presenters are now casually pushing smart speakers, as if the company has perhaps got an interest in shifting its listeners in that direction.
Yes we shout at the radio everytime! Due to a Christmas present mix up we have the Amazon Echo Dot and the Google Mini. I think the Amazon speaker is slightly better and it also has a mini jack output. It is certainly a cheap fix if the BBC streaming service is actually discontinued. I use an old mobile smartphone plugged into my Denon Tuner with Mission speakers for listening to missed programmes, so that’s another fix. If the FM signals are ever turned off I will have at least 12 redundant radio receivers!
Good Morning, Thank you this, I’ve found it really helpful. Isn’t there anything we can do as license holders? I think I might, in the time-honoured fashion, complain to the Beeb.
I was just listening to Radio 4 via satellite (Astra 28.2) this morning. It suddenly went dead. Then we noticed all the other BBC streams were also dead, but we could still get the commercial radio stations like LBC. From what I could deduce, the BBC are switching local TV channels and also radio channels which ‘piggy back’ on SD signals to HD only and this involves switching off a lot of current frequencies. So no warning, just ‘bang’ in the middle of Women’s Hour and nothing there. I am trying to retune my satellite box to see if there are available new BBC channels to replace these, but currently switched over to my Internet stream, only to hear the recorded announcement that the current stream I am using will be taken away very soon.
What do I do other than listen to Radio 4 LW with all the interference and poor sound quality; and they say they are going to pull this soon too. I think the UK and the BBC want to cut off the world from their output. Sour grapes over Brexit.
For internet radio (classical/jazz): Radio Swiss Classic (German), Radio Suisse Classique (French) and Radio Swiss Jazz (German/French) are 24 hour radio stations without advertising and with very little talk. They are all better than Radio Three or Classic FM.
Well, to my surprise, PURE got back in touch:
We are reaching out regarding the issue you have raised concerning the changes to BBC streaming services that will take place in the first half of 2023.
We would like to inform you that Pure is conducting a feasibility study to see if we can offer a software update for Evoke F3 and Evoke C-F6 to support the new BBC streams. We will contact you again when we have reached a conclusion.
We thank you for your understanding!
Customer support”. Well, not bad! At least they’re trying!
“better than” is a little subjective, I guess. I was a radio 3 listener in my younger days, reconnected just before the lockdowns and quite enjoy the mix they offer. Of course if Pure can’t pull off some magic tech-work with my radio, I’ll probably end up exploring other avenues.
BBC driving more good products into landfill. I have good speakers from Panasonic running Allplay Qualcomm Wi-Fi connected speakers. All will stop working before of the BBC which of course we have to pay licensing fee for each year!!
I also have a Pure device – a Siesta Flow – which will no longer support BBC radio streams. Frankly I won’t be getting another Pure product. I’ve had a succession of problems. Originally I could choose radio stations via a web site, then it went to an app, then the iOS app was discontinued so I had to have an Android device and now even that app no longer works, so I can’t choose any stations other than those I’ve already programmed. Then a couple of years ago the time displayed was wrong. Pure admitted they no longer had control over the time displayed on the device and they were reliant on a third-party server which wouldn’t reply to their support requests. So I think it’s an Amazon Echo Dot for me. Although my wife is irritated by having to speak to it, so I’m investigating if I can play Alexa Routines via a button or other simple device.
We contacted Pure and their response was that our one flow radio could not be updated. After investigating the market we bought a Roberts stream 94L which works perfectly. Sound quality brilliant. I think Barry has it right. This is a move by the BBC to save money and spy on their audience. We depend on internet radio because we like to listen to Local radio not only in Sussex but also London and Canada (where my wife come from). It also solves the problem of poor fm and DAB reception. As to “smart speakers” we have an Apple mini HomePod which doesn’t stream any BBC content.