BBC television coverage supported the international Live 8 concerts with an interactive service that provided simultaneous access to multiple events around the world.

Satellite and cable viewers were able to watch live coverage from London, Philadelphia, Paris, Rome and Berlin, with updates from Tokyo, Moscow and Johannesburg.

Terrestrial viewers received a more limited service, with coverage from America and a selection from the European concerts.

The application was similar to that used for the Olympics. The multistream interactive service followed interactive coverage from Wimbledon.

One of the more surreal moments was a surprise appearance by Bill Gates.
“If you show people the problems and you show people the solutions they will be moved to act,” said the Microsoft founder and chairman, before going on to introduce singer Dido.

Organisers of the event said that 26.4 million text messages of support had been received, beating the previous record of 5.8 million text votes for an episode of American Idol.

The BBC coverage was produced in high-definition television, and was relayed to high definition big screen watched by thousands of people in Cardiff in the BBC’s first public demonstration of HDTV.

“This is a great opportunity for the BBC to test its delivery of HDTV at a big public event,” said John Varney, the BBC’s chief technology officer. The format used was 1080i, giving an interlaced picture of 1920×1080 pixels.

Although high definition is commonplace in the United States and elsewhere, it has only been available on a limited scale in Europe. BSkyB aims to offer a high-definition service from next summer. The BBC has said that all its programming will be produced in high definition by 2010.