After receiving 110,000 complaints – the highest number ever for a British TV broadcast – the BBC has today issued a statement regarding the wall-to-wall cover of Prince Philip’s death last week.
And at the same time – the BBC has announced significant changes to its TV and Radio schedule on Saturday, for the coverage of Prince Philip’s funeral.
On April 9, following the passing of Prince Philip, the BBC quickly cancelled its regular programming for the ongoing coverage of the Prince’s death.
The changes, however, were not limited to BBC One or BBC News. BBC Two’s schedule was also cancelled, and simply mirrored BBC One’s broadcast, while BBC Four was taken off the air completely.
Popular shows like MasterChef and EastEnders were replaced by news programmes, and while people who watch streaming services could easily watch other content via BBC iPlayer (or streaming services like Netflix), people who still rely on Freeview and get a lot of their programming live from the BBC – were left with nothing to watch but the Prince Phillip coverage.
Judging by the ratings, many viewers were not pleased with the choice they were left with, and the BBC – along with ITV who also cancelled its regular schedule – suffered major declines in audience numbers, according to Deadline.
BBC One lost 6% of its audience (compared to the previous Friday night), BBC Two lost 65% of its audience (while showing a mirror of BBC One), and ITV was down 60%.
Over the next few days, the BBC has received so many complaints – that they posted a dedicated form online, for complaints specifically about the Prince Philip coverage.
Eventually, they logged around 110,000 complaints.
The BBC Responds
Today, the BBC published an official response to the numerous complaints.
“The passing of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh was a significant event which generated a lot of interest both nationally and internationally”, the BBC says.
“We acknowledge some viewers were unhappy with the level of coverage given, and impact this had on the billed TV and Radio schedules.
“We do not make such changes without careful consideration and the decisions made reflect the role the BBC plays as the national broadcaster, during moments of national significance.
“We are grateful for all feedback, and we always listen to the response from our audiences.”
More BBC Schedule Changes Coming
At around the same time, the BBC published MORE schedule changes for Saturday, April 17 – for the coverage of Prince Philip’s funeral – including four hours of live coverage, and two hours of The Duke: In His Own Words:
10am – BBC News
11am – The Duke: In His Own Words
midday – BBC Weekend News
12.30pm – The Funeral of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
4.20pm – BBC Weekend News
4.50pm – BBC Regional News
5pm – The FA Cup – Semi-Final: Chelsea v Manchester City
As scheduled until…
10.10-10.40pm – BBC Weekend News
BBC Two will stick to some of its regular programmings throughout the day – until 8:10 pm, when it will air a rerun of the funeral.
And this time, hopefully, BBC Four will not be taken off the air. Still, if you prefer to watch other things – streaming TV is your friend that day.