The BBC has removed an online form used to deal with complaints about the overall coverage of Prince Philip’s death after the number of complaints peaked.
Scheduled programming was resumed at 2 p.m. on Saturday, after BBC One and BBC Two cleared their schedules to simultaneously broadcast more than 24 hours of programming on The Duke of Edinburgh.
The company’s decision to remove the Friday night staples in favor of pre-recorded tributes sparked so many complaints that it opened the dedicated form on its website to deal with them. Using such a form was a standard BBC approach to handling complaint volumes on a temporary basis, according to the Guardian.
Although the broadcaster did not specify the number of complaints it received, it is understood that the rate at which they were arriving had started to decline.
A bi-monthly bulletin of all complaints is due out on Wednesday. The broadcaster has yet to release full details of its lineup around the Duke’s funeral on April 17.
Viewers turned off their televisions en masse after broadcasters aired comprehensive coverage of Philip’s death, audience figures revealed on Saturday. Along with the removal of shows such as EastEnders, Gardeners’ World and the MasterChef Finals, BBC Four has been removed and replaced with a notice urging viewers to switch to BBC One. It was supposed to show England’s women’s football team facing France in an international friendly
Ratings of BBC One, traditionally the channel Britons turn to at times of national importance, are down 6% from the previous week, according to the analysis of audience figures from Deadline.
BBC Two has lost two-thirds of its audience, with an average of just 340,000 people online anytime between 7pm and 11pm. ITV also saw a downturn after abandoning its Friday night schedule to broadcast tributes to the Duke.
The BBC had been criticized both for the breadth of its coverage and for the implementation of the form.
Chris Mullin, author and former minister, tweeted: “The BBC is making a big mistake with its North Korean coverage of Prince Philip. Can only alienate more license payers at a time when it needs all the public support it can get. “
Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of conservative think tank Bow Group, accused the company of “prompting to respond” by putting together the complaint form.
“When the BBC publishes things that are more in line with the numbers on the left, no opportunity to complain is promoted. It’s pretty clear that there is an imbalance,” he said.