The BBC has introduced new energy saving slates that will save you money when you listen to BBC Radio on a digital TV platform.
- UK audiences listen to 58 million hours of BBC Radio annually via digital TV services
- Improvements to the on-screen slate that appears when playing BBC Radio on platforms including Freeview and Freesat can cut electricity usage by up to 64%.
The BBC Research & Development department has been looking at ways to reduce energy, and thus carbon usage. Modern televisions now have a number of energy saving mechanisms built-in, but the BBC wanted to see how if changes to on-screen graphics could be help reduce energy use.
BBC R&D’s Colin Warhurst confirmed that recent changes to radio graphics has resulted in TVs using significantly less energy when left to play BBC Radio stations. The suggestion to specifically look at radio graphics came from Warhurst’s colleague Alison Hunter.
The graphics or slates that appear on BBC Radio stations on some TV platforms were already due to be revised as part of the ongoing rebrand of BBC services and the roll-out of new logos. BBC R&D piggybacked on this with the creation of new “Lower Carbon Graphics” or LCGfx that reduce areas of luminance or vibrant colour.
Energy saving amounts
According to the BBC R&D blog, the energy savings were:
- 64% on OLED
- 47% on FALD
- 22% on Direct LED
…compared to the old-style graphics. Tests were conducted with the TVs set to 100% backlight strength. The above figure is the average across all BBC Radio graphics.
The change to the BBC Radio 4 Extra slate resulted in the test OLED display reducing energy use by 76%.
BBC R&D tests also confirmed that the existing green button function on Freeview, which allowed viewers to turn off the radio station graphics, also saved energy on modern devices.
Unlike LCGfx, the green button required audiences to manually activate the function.
The BBC has since rolled out the changes across all radio stations on TV platforms where a slate is displayed. And in addition to rolling it out on newer devices, the BBC has also made an energy saving version of its slates available on older TVs that only support MHEG graphics.
Warhurst revealed that many BBC radio stations now use LCGfx principles on internal displays. Technology colleagues in collaboration with BT are developing LCGfx ‘bars and tone’ graphics, commonly used by broadcasters throughout Europe.
These are instances where TVs/displays are left for lengthy periods showing a static or near-static image.
Speaking of the rollout of the LCGfx on BBC Radio, Warhurst said:
“We were incredibly moved in that moment, knowing that from very the moment of switch-on, the graphics were instantly saving energy in potentially millions of homes – in fact, anywhere a TV was being used to listen to BBC radio.”