How strange and peculiar was the BBC‘s reaction to the death of Nelson Mandela?
You couldn’t make it up. How is any of this in any way logical?
What happened was this: BBC1 stopped broadcasting a programme 10 minutes before it ended, and immediately shut down. Yes, Mandela died, so BBC1 shut down.
BBC1 is one of the national domestic services paid for by the licence fee. At 9:50pm all programming was suspended, and the output of BBC News was relayed instead, as is normal overnight, to duplicate what was being broadcast by BBC News on BBC1 as well. Yes, shutting BBC1 down and relaying BBC News is usual after about 1am, but not at 10 to 10 in the evening.
A scheduled programme, Question Time, was incomprehensibly shuffled off to another domestic channel, BBC2.
What is all this madness?
I mean, it would only make some form of sense if there were instances when BBC1 can be received but not BBC News. All domestic TV stations can be viewed by everybody in the UK. Therefore, any excuse of maybe bringing BBC News to an audience that can’t normally receive it just doesn’t hold.
At the same time that Mandela’s sad yet predictable death occurred on the other side of the world, the UK itself was being battered by storm surges and the most frightening flooding that killed two, left thousands without power, and hundreds homeless. Homes were being washed out to sea, and the entire country was on alert with advisories that we were facing the worst weather disturbances for 60 years.
Did they switch off the programme they were broadcasting in order to provide rolling coverage and advice for frightened Britons needing to survive the tidal surges? Nope. It was to give rolling coverage of a death. Not even a dying. The death had happened. That’s it. Nothing else to see here. He’s dead!
Our primary domestic service from the BBC ignored the plight of storm victims. The BBC News channel (now relayed on BBC1) was full of nobody important telling us how sad they were as individuals to learn of Mandela’s death.
Hour after hour after hour this self-flagellating continued. Journalists who had been raised by the Guardian newspaper alongside millionaire socialist pop acts, were all wheeled out to try to out-pour each other’s out-pourings. And they were repeated again and again and again.
Meanwhile, nowhere was the BBC, paid for by the domestic licence fee, bothering to broadcast any of the evacuation advisories, updates, or news about the terrible night that many of the population of the UK were facing as the wind and sea picked up and smashed whole communities.
So, what was gained by closing BBC1 and relaying BBC News, whilst shuffling scheduled BBC1 programming off to another channel they hadn’t closed down? How does any of this make any sense?
Surely what was actually needed was for BBC1 to concentrate on providing specialist ’emergency’ programming reporting on the domestic disaster that was unfolding, leaving all the wailing about Mandela over on the BBC News channel.
Instead, what they did was very wrong and unforgivable. Typical and expected, considering the hard-wired bias of BBC journalists, but very wrong.