BBC accused of ‘hysteria’ in coverage of Prince’s death
Coverage of the Prince’s death was ‘over the top’ say viewers
The BBC has suffered a huge backlash from viewers who accused it of “too much coverage” of the death of Prince Philip.
Figures from Barb show BBC Two lost 64% of its viewers compared to the previous week while BBC One was down by 6% to 2.41 million compared to 2.56 million last Friday.
The corporation, which continued with more extensive overage on Saturday morning, was forced to create an online complaints form within just six hours of Prince Philip’s death being announced.
The form states: “We’re receiving complaints about too much TV coverage of the death of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.”
Viewers bombarded the corporation for going “over the top” after it cancelled its schedule and devoted its two main channels to the death of the Prince at Windsor Castle earlier in the day.
[update 13 April: At least 110,994 people complained about coverage of the event, most regarding excessive coverage. It is the highest number of complaints in television history]
The MasterChef final, which was due to air on BBC One at 8.30pm, was among the programmes taken off air. EastEnders and Gardeners’ World were also pulled.
ITV also lost 60% of the previous week’s audience, according to analysis of viewing figures by Deadline.
Channel 4 aired extended tributes to the death of the royal consort but returned to its normal schedule.
The BBC was the focus of criticism, particularly as it showed some of the same coverage on BBC1 and BBC2.
BBC Four’s schedule was replaced with a notice urging viewers to switch to BBC One for a tribute. The channel had been due to show the England women’s football team play France in an international friendly.
Even children watching CBBC were greeted with a message encouraging them to watch the news for a major story. Adverts were removed from the BBC-owned commercial channels such as Dave, Yesterday and Gold.
Critics called the coverage “hysterical” and even “unhinged” with some comparing it to the likes of North Korea.
Among those who complained was former news reader Simon McCoy who quit the corporation last month.
“BBC1 and BBC2 showing the same thing,” said Mr McCoy who earned a fan following for his off-the-cuff screen comments. He added: “And presumably the News Channel too. Why? I know this is a huge event. But surely the public deserve a choice of programming?”
Media in general went into over-drive with the Daily Mail boasting 144 pages on the Prince’s death in Saturday’s paper.
The BBC set up a special complaints form
Buckingham Palace has announced that the ceremonial royal funeral will take place next Saturday (17 April) in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, with a national minute’s silence as it begins at 3pm.
Prince Harry is expected to attend, but Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, who is pregnant, will not accompany him.