Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Why was the BBC's election night coverage so poor?

I did not stay up very late last night, but even so it was clear that Obama had won by the time I went to bed.

At least I think it was. It was hard to tell because I was watching the BBC coverage.

Let me join the chorus of disapproval from Liberal Democrat Voice, Iain Dale and A Lanson Boy and say how poor it was.

Essentially David Dimbleby and his pals were sitting around waiting for the American networks to declare the various State results. But they gave us no steer on which States to look for and what particular results in them would mean. So the number of delegates in Obama's column went up and up, but it was impossible to be sure how significant this was.

Unlike Iain, I do not think Dimbleby has ever been a great broadcaster - of election night programmes or anything else. As I said a long time ago, his career owes a lot to his family connections (and, to be fair, his strong bladder). It is certainly time they found someone else to do this job, and Iain's suggestion of Andrew Neil would be several streets better.

It was no great surprise that, as the results came in, the alternative viewing on BBC2 was a programme featuring David Dimbleby's brother. And it could be worse: back in the 1980s the corporation insisted on casting his young son in their Arthur Ransome adaptations.

But a serious questions remains: why, with 175 staff sent to American and 50 executives paid more than the prime minister, was the BBC coverage so poor?


Anonymous said...

I don't know how you can criticise Dimbleby without mentioning the waste of space that is Jeremy Vine !!!

His "touch screen" gizmo was risible. He gave every impression that he had never seen the thing until 15 seconds before he started, and the existence of Indiana seemed to take him by surprise.

It was dreadful, dreadful, dreadful.

Anonymous said...

I didn't even bother to try the BBC coverage.

I had CNN on the telly and MSNBC on the PC from the start.

It is ridiculous that they sent that many people over given that all the information they need is readily available in real time online.

Frank Little said...

It would make a nice retirement job for Rhodri Morgan. He clearly knows much more about US politics than the BBC family firm. :-)

Seriously, why wasn't BBC News's resident, Matt Frei, given the task?

(I was watching France24's coverage via the Web, by the way.)

HE Elsom said...

I was listening to Radio 4 in bed. I rolled over and went to sleep when Obama won Pennsylvania just before 0200, but I though the coverage was reasonably lucid until then -- key states and significance of results well flagged and not-to-annoying chatters. But Jim Naughtie didn't need to be in Washington DC to do the programme.

Lorna Dupré said...

It really was awful in epic proportions, wasn't it? I really hope the BBC take note and muck out their election coverage stables.

Neuroskeptic said...

Most of it was pretty crap yes, but come on, Gore Vidal's rant was worth the cost of admission. Although I feel very sorry for him, in retrospect. Not to be flippant but - Alzheimer's or alcohol?

dreamingspire said...

Where can I find Gore Vidal's rant?

Jonathan Calder said...


Anonymous said...

Andrew Neil!!!

Please, no. I thought the right-wing nutters had had their day?

Anonymous said...

Dimbleby is great but he has run out of steam. It's time for Jeremy Paxman and Kirsty Wark to take over.

London Hotels said...

I didn't even bother to try the BBC coverage.