Monday, April 19, 2010

An open letter to the BBC - reply

Yes I've had a reply to my letter to the BBC

Thank you for your e-mail.

I understand you're unhappy with the scheduling of some programmes on the BBC as you feel that they start early.

We do allow programme-makers some flexibility in running time, although all programmes are expected to run about one minute less than their slot time so that we can accommodate promotional trails and continuity announcements. If a programme is over-running slightly, it may be necessary to begin it a little early.

The Radio Times and other listings publications prefer to bill programme schedules in five-minute blocks for easy reference, but this does not necessarily mean a programme will start or end at that time precisely. On occasions some programmes may start up to one minute early, or run up to two or three minutes late, to enable viewers from one BBC channel to switch to a programme on the other BBC channel without missing the start. Commercial channels experience exactly the same problems but have commercial airtime built into their schedules and can make adjustments more easily than us.

I appreciate you're unhappy at the start time of some programmes and so I've registered your comment on our audience log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that's circulated to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, channel controllers and other senior managers.

The audience logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions about future programming and content.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

Let's take that apart shall we? All programmes are expected to run one minute less and this allows for promo's etc. so if it's over-running the next one may start earlier. So to set in sequence we have Programme One running from 6:30 to 7:00pm this is expected to finish at 6:59 to allow for a 1-minute promo reel. Instead it finishes at 6:59:30 so Programme Two starts 30 seconds early. Anyone else finding that hard to swallow? If I mention that I have photographic evidence of a 7:00 scheduled show starting at 6:58:24 does that become even more difficult to swallow?

All this states is that the people running the networks can't think on their feet. Sure a show overruns or underruns, but you slap in a specific promo to cover that gap until the next programme is scheduled to start you don't start the next one early.

As for the difference between listing magazines and actual times - what rot. Point the first - the Radio Times is the BBC magazine, point the second - there is no reason not to run in the 5 minute block segments used by the listing magazines via the judicious use of promo reels as I've already stated.

This isn't an answer, it's an excuse.