Eighteen BBC Local Radio stations fall silent

Eighteen BBC Local Radio services went off-air on Friday morning due to major technical problems around the network.

The stations affected all use the BBC ViLoR system – which connects local radio studios with servers in London rather than use local hard drives for music, audio and studio software.

Listeners complained shortly before 8am about the silence on local stations. A total of 33 transmitters on FM, DAB and AM went quiet before stations started rebroadcasting 5 live. Shortly afterwards stations reconnected to their transmitters via ISDN but online streams remained on 5 live till at least 11am.

The BBC announced at 9am today – “Technical problems are continuing to affect output at a number of BBC Local Radio stations this morning, including at BBC Three Counties. Engineers are working to fix the problem but at the moment it’s not known how long it will be before normal service resumes.”

BBC Essex tweeted: “We’ve been having a couple of technical issues today but our engineers are working hard behind the scenes to resume normal service as soon as possible.”

BBC Three Counties updated listeners at midday saying they are back on-air locally but unable to play any jingles, songs or recorded voice reports. Phone lines were down across the network but the text-in number worked as normal.

A source told RadioToday one or more BBC ViLoR radio services on all platforms suffered an outage, resulting from an equipment failure.

The BBC said BT has confirmed that the issue was caused by an engineer carrying out pre-work activities in Oxford where a fibre tray was disturbed at the time of the incident.

Stations affected, with a mixture of FM, MW and DAB, were 3CR, Berkshire, Cumbria, Derby, Devon, Essex, Gloucester, Humberside, Leicester, Lincolnshire, Newcastle, Northampton, Oxford, Solent (plus Dorset opt-out), Suffolk, Tees and Wiltshire.

BBC engineers are attempting a full restoration of ViLoR services overnight whilst local stations broadcast 5 live.

ViLoR – standing for Virtual Local Radio – was introduced in 2014 and is currently rolling out to all BBC Local Radio stations. At the time, Joe Pignatiello, ViLoR trainer and developer, said “ViLoR provides cutting edge kit to local radio stations, bringing them up to the level of network radio” and by design has back-up facilities included.

RadioToday has contacted the BBC for additional information and will update this story in due course.

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