The BBC has reportedly received only 670 complaints regarding “excessive” coverage of Queen Elizabeth II’s death compared to over 100,000 it received following the death of her husband, Prince Philip.
The BBC’s schedules were thrown into chaos last Thursday (Sept. 8) after Buckingham Palace made a rare public statement regarding “concerns” for the Queen’s health. Within half an hour of the statement being release the BBC had diverted its flagship network, BBC One, to a rolling news feed. When the Queen’s death was announced later that evening, the corporation interrupted all programming across television and radio to bring audiences the news. Subsidiary networks BBC Three and Four were paused entirely, with an ident directing viewers to BBC One, while BBC Two was a simulcast of BBC One.
33 million people watched news of her death announced live, of whom a third were watching one of the BBC’s channel.
While some of those channels began to get back to normal scheduling by the following day and certainly by the weekend, BBC One has largely remained a rolling news feed, certainly during the day, with hours of live coverage given to events including the six-hour journey of the Queen’s coffin from Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands to Edinburgh on Monday as well as the journey from Edinburgh to Buckingham Palace on Tuesday and the state procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall on Wednesday.
Other royal events have also been given ample air time, including King Charles III’s accession ceremony on Saturday morning and his first official engagements as well as footage of Prince William and Catherine, the Princess of Wales meeting well-wishers outside Windsor castle alongside Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.
The BBC is also broadcasting a 24-hour livestream of the Queen lying in state at Westminster Hall, where visitors are queuing for hours to pay their respects.
Despite this, the Guardian reports that only 670 complaints have been received about coverage from the day of the Queen’s death, although it notes “the number had increased in recent days but remained relatively low.” The BBC is expected to publish an official number of complaints later today.
When the Queen’s husband Prince Philip died last April, the network received over 109,000 complaints within a week of his death complaining about the blanket coverage. Such was the volume of complaints the corporation even set up a dedicated complaints page for viewers to vent.
“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 said at the time.
“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.”
The disruption to the BBC’s schedules will remain at least until Monday, when the Queen’s official state funeral will take place.
The launch of the latest season of hit show “Strictly Come Dancing” is among the most high profile casualties. The ballroom dance competition has been delayed by almost a week to accommodate coverage of the royals.
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