Wednesday, March 28, 2007

BBC gets back to me!

April 2, 2006

Straight up, I concede I can be a crank. And when I'm angry, I sometimes fire off emails complaining. I try to take a few deep breaths before hitting [Enter].

Most of the time my emails, phone calls and letters are ignored -- as Global and Fox Sports World Canada do as a matter of routine (see posts below ad nauseum).

So I was delighted to see the BBC Sports Director Roger Mosley get back to me regarding my complaint about their shoddy online broadcast of the crucial Wales-France test match. The test match was at a fever-pitch, it was extraordinarily close and the result would determine the winner of the Six Nations championship. And then with three minutes remaining, the commentary ceased. Listeners around the world were incensed!

Thank you BBC! Sometimes it feels like somebody is listening and actually cares.

March 18, 2006

Attn: RogerMosley
BBC Director of Sports

Dear Roger Mosley,

Your BBC website says, quote:

"BBC Television, Radio Five Live and the BBC Sport website are providing comprehensive coverage of the RBS Six Nations. There is live coverage of every match on BBC One, with all 15 matches also available live on the website for UK users, and audio commentaries worldwide."

That is very misleading. Rugby fans in Canada that can't view the Six Nations tests on TV, and many of us set aside our Saturday's to listen to the live audio commentaries, as the BBC website promotes. And since the BBC World Service doesn't broadcast to our part of the globe any longer, we look to the web.

But your website is misleading and frustrating. We don't get all the test match commentaries, in fact we don't even know which tests we are going to hear until kick-off, and WORSE, sometimes we'll listen for two-hours like during todays frenetic France-Wales test to decide the championship, and with the last three minutes of the test remaining the audio ends with a cycled announcement that the test is not available for overseas audiences.

This is third-rate amateur confusion, certainly not what I expect from the BBC. Please do us a favour and either deliver the services or tell us in advance they we are stuffed, because I have wasted too many hours taking your webpage at its word.

Dave Fisher in Canada

Admittedly, a cranky letter. But bless his heart, Mr. Mosley replied:

19 March 2006

Dear Dave

Thanks for writing.

I'm sorry if there was a problem with the Wales-France commentary. Clearly, we want our listeners around the world to enjoy our coverage. I'm copying to my colleague Ayesha Mohideen who is in charge of our speech internet services so she can look into what happened.

Best wishes

And indeed, that's exactly what happened. Ms. Mohideen responds:

April 2, 2006

Dear Mr Fisher

I'm sorry for the delay in responding to your email, which Roger Mosey passed on to me; I've been trying to get to the bottom of what happened and work out how we can avoid this in future so that I would have something substantive to report back to you.

Firstly, I must apologise for what was clearly and understandably an immensely frustrating experience: one of the reasons why we try to persuade rightsholders to allow us to stream commentary internationally online is because we know just how important it is to Britons abroad like you. However, not all rightsholders allow us to do this and what happened to you was the result of an unfortunate conjunction between rightsholders with different stances on this issue.

You were listening to a live stream of Five Live Sports Extra, which was covering the rugby international before going straight to the Birmingham v Spurs match. We have persuaded the Premiership to allow us to stream commentary to increase access to it, e.g. among those who may be in offices and unable to listen on the radio, but its agreement was conditional on our confining the stream to the UK. To avoid violating this agreement, we have to arrange in advance for the stream to be "blanked" but, live sport being what it is, we have to estimate when the blanking should start. We don't always get it right and here was a clear example of the consequences of our getting it wrong.

At the moment, we are unable simply to switch off the stream at the precise moment that the Premiership commentary starts so have to rely on estimating timings but this isn't the first time that the timings have gone awry and I have asked that we extend the lagtime we allow after the scheduled end of one sporting event to ensure that we minimise the chances of this happening again and will deal with any repercussions from the Premiership accordingly. This is clearly not an ideal state of affairs so we are looking into a more reliable and effective system to eliminate the problem in future.

Once again, I'm sorry for the disappointing service you received, which I can only agree is not what you should expect of the BBC, and thank you for taking the time to make us aware of the problem.

Best wishes

Ayesha Mohideen
Head of Speech Radio Interactive

The Red Terror is not a Briton living abroad, just a big rugby fan. Nonetheless, the follow-up is appreciated and professional. It would be nicer still if our own media -- FSWC and Global -- did the same.


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