The Programmes Ontology

Tom Scott (BBC Audio and Music Interactive), Yves Raimond (Queen Mary, University of London), Patrick Sinclair (BBC Audio and Music Interactive), Nicholas Humfrey (BBC Audio and Music Interactive)

11:00 Thursday, 8 May 2008
Data and databases Goldsmiths 3
BBC Programmes is a new project which aims to ensure that every programme the BBC broadcasts has a permanent, findable web presence. Launched in October 2007, it publishes programmes data that covers the eight BBC TV channels, ten national radio stations and the six stations covering Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The database behind BBC Programmes also powers iPlayer, the BBC on-demand service that allows UK-based users to view a selection of programmes broadcast on the BBC networks from the last seven days.

Historically the BBC website has focused on provided information and rich online experiences to support only the major BBC programmes but, with well over 1000 programmes broadcast every day across radio and TV networks, web coverage to date has been neither comprehensive nor permanent. BBC Programmes seeks to solve this problem – ensuring that every programme brand, series and episode has a persistent presence on the web.

To enable the sharing of this data in a structured way, we are investigating the linked data approach, where resources on the web can be far more than just documents. They can identify anything, from a particular person to a particular programme. These resources have representations, which can be machine-processable (through the use of RDF, Microformats, RDFa, etc.), and these representations can hold links towards further web resources, allowing to jump from one dataset to another.

In order to provide a direct access to the actual data backing BBC Programmes, we designed a Semantic Web ontology covering programmes data, The Programmes Ontology. This ontology provides web identifiers for concepts such as brand, series, or episode. The ontology is divided in two main parts. First, it captures categorical information about programmes, and the relations between such categories. For example, it allows the description of a brand, a series constituting it, a sub-series and an episode in it. The second part of the ontology describes episodes’ versions and their broadcast on a particular service.

We have designed the ontology so that it can describe any broadcasters’ programmes, both live and on-demand. For example, the Southampton University student radio station, Surge, is using the Programmes Ontology to expose it’s schedule and programme information. We hope that the ontology will be used for broadcasters to interchange and interlink schedule information.