The death of Elizabeth II leaves the BBC with a delicate balance | BBC

The Queen’s death has left the BBC with a delicate balancing act. It must act as a national broadcaster and commemorate the Queen, while ensuring that it does not overwhelm audiences to the point that they turn off completely.

A combined TV audience of around 16 million people was watching the BBC, ITV and Sky News at 6.30pm Thursday night when news of the Queen’s death was officially announced.

Millions more were watching the same shows via online streams, with the BBC’s iPlayer and Sounds apps struggling to keep up with demand. Many people are also likely to have discovered the news through push alerts on their phones.

The challenge facing UK broadcasters is that the media has changed dramatically since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and the Queen Mother. At the time, there were only a handful of television channels and it was easy to impose the same atmosphere throughout the country. Now, with endless streaming options and catch-up services, it’s easy for viewers to jump to Netflix or TikTok if they tire of TV news updates and up-tempo music on the go. radio stations.

There remains a deep paranoia at the BBC at being deemed insufficiently respectful of the monarch, as symbolized by the fixation on the color of the tie worn by Peter Sissons to announce the death of the Queen Mother. Still, judging the tone and extent of coverage can be difficult. Full coverage of Prince Philip’s death last year has become the most controversial issue in BBC history.

Different audiences around the world also have different expectations. BBC News Africa had to urge his audience to be more “respectful” after posting a tweet celebrating the Queen’s ‘longstanding connection’ to the continent. The account was inundated with posts highlighting the negative impact of British colonialism, leading BBC Africa to manually hide some replies.

For now, BBC One has been devoted entirely to streaming news about the accession of King Charles III and the start of Queen Elizabeth II’s official period of mourning, with ongoing discussions about how long this period will last. Many popular shows, such as EastEnders, moved to BBC Two. The Last Night of the Proms, scheduled for Saturday evening, has been cancelled. Many of the company’s radio stations have aired dark playlists with reduced conversation between songs, while Radio 1 breakfast show host Greg James focuses on the universal idea of the loss.

ITV has also continued continuous coverage of the new monarch without commercial breaks, although its for-profit commercial status means it is more inclined to return to a normal schedule. It also suffers from comparison with the BBC which – regardless of the quality of the coverage – tends to attract the majority of viewers for major national events. He has already postponed the National Television Awards which were due to take place next Thursday.

The Sky Sports News TV channel has been taken over by Sky News, meaning people listening to updates on Graham Potter’s appointment as Chelsea manager were instead greeted with Queen’s coverage .

Channel 4 appears to have decided to take on the role of counter-programming, saying it exists to offer viewers a “particularly important alternative at times like this”, by airing programs such as Gogglebox.

All online news websites have seen extraordinarily high traffic, while print newspapers, some filled with stories written for decades, have sold out across the UK as people pick up souvenir copies.

But at the BBC, it may have been the Daily Mail’s endorsement that was greeted with a sigh of relief by chief executive Tim Davie and new BBC News boss Deborah Turness. The newspaper praised the company’s “simple but masterful coverage” of the announcement. But even if the coverage of the Queen’s death was correct, the challenge could be ensuring the coverage strikes the right balance in the 10 days before her state funeral.

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