A small change has been made to the BBC News homepage which is actually a bit irritating.

Cosmetically, all they have done is remove a very small button, but that button had a function that belied its size – namely the ability to customise which version of the BBC News website you get.

The BBC News offered a UK focused news service, or an international focused front page. Being vastly more interested in “real news” than I am in who won Pop Idol last week – I set the system to display primarily international news.

Naturally, if I wanted UK news, then the option was there, and for everyone else, the international news was also still there.

You could just customise your preferences – but not anymore.

In their refreshingly open blog, the BBC explained that technical problems were one reason for the removal of the service, which is semi-tolerable.

However, the other reason given is that for some reason, if I had set the front page to show international news, then later clicked on a video news item that was limited to UK based visitors – I would be blocked from viewing the video.

That bit doesn’t make any sense though.

Any reputable internet firm works out where you are in the world based on the IP address your browser/ISP uses – not some arbitary switch the user selects on the front page of the website. Quite why the BBC is claiming that UK residents who customised their home page could then not view video clips seems a bit odd.

Anyhow, it is only the front page that has changed, so while irritating, it is not a total disaster.


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  1. I’m not happy with the change. As an international reader, I prefer to read the UK version as I get plenty of international news everywhere else. I want to keep up with UK centered news. I really don’t like the loss of choice. But I guess I can’t complain too much, I’m not a license fee payer so I should probably be happy with what I can get.

  2. Actually, I believe that every single page had a UK and international version – it’s just that the toggle between ‘editions’ was on the front page only. Given that the BBC News site has ads on it outside the UK, that would mean four different versions (UK version for UK people with no ads, UK version for UK people with ads, International version for International people with ads, International version for UK people without ads… see what a nightmare all of that is.) I -think- the “/1/” in the URL for every page is the UK version, and if you access the site internationally, you’ll get a “/2/”. Possibly. Or maybe not now.

    J (who works at the BBC, but not in news).

  3. Andy says:

    A while back I noticed that I could no longer set the weather to my local city outside the UK. I used to use this weather data on the BBC front page daily. They said that my cookie settings were bad but, knowing a thing or two about web design, I know that the cookie was simply not setting itself as anything but London if you tried a non-UK location.

    Now I noticed my Intl Version has gone so this confirms why the weather stopped allowing intl cities even when the button was there for you to do so. Until I came to this blog I didnt know the BBC were ditching Intl users so thanks for the heads-up – I was only searching for info as to how to get the Intl version again.

    I agree that its a cop out – one line of code would either allow/block video content based on IP so this is not a valid reason.

    I’m looking elsewhere for my news/weather portal unfortunately.

  4. Tathagat says:

    I found out that you can use a free web based proxy to overcome this shortcoming.

    If you want UK version – use a UK based proxy.
    International – any proxy outside UK.

    Hope that helped.

  5. Ikrananka says:

    On and off I have been tearing my hair out trying to get my home city in Canada set for the weather but it kept defaulting back to London. This is despite after clicking the Edit button a hyperlink appears offering a means to change “international” location but just takes you to the 5-day forecast page which doesn’t affect you personalised homepage.

    Well I have found a solution that seems to work for now. If one goes to http://www.bbc.co.uk/home/d/ instead of http://www.bbc.co.uk then a location button appears at the top of the screen. Click on this button and type in your international city name (ignore the fact that is asks for a UK city/post code) and after a confirmation dialog the weather does change to your international city. However, you have to revisit http://www.bbc.co.uk/home/d/ to get the new localised version, http://www.bbc.co.uk still just shows the London weather!!!

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