BBC coverage of Philip’s death draws record complaints
LONDON (AP) — The BBC’s coverage of the death of Prince Philip has drawn almost 110,000 complaints from the public, making it the most complained-about piece of television programming ever in the U.K.
The broadcaster cleared its normal schedules across two TV channels on Friday to run a series of special programs after Queen Elizabeth II’s husband died at the age of 99. Popular shows like “EastEnders” and the “Masterchef” cookery competition show were postponed and replaced by news programs and pre-recorded tributes, and the BBC Four channel was taken off air completely.
BBC radio stations also aired programs about Philip.
The BBC said in a statement Thursday that Philip’s death was a “significant event which generated a lot of interest both nationally and internationally,” but acknowledged that some thought the rolling coverage was excessive.
“We acknowledge some viewers were unhappy with the level of coverage given and impact this had on the billed TV and radio schedules,” it continued. “We do not make such changes without careful consideration and the decisions made reflect the role the BBC plays as the national broadcaster during moments of national significance.”
The corporation also received complaints about its decision to include Prince Andrew in its tributes coverage despite his association with U.S. sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. It said it had “appropriately covered his comments,” fully reported on the allegations against Andrew, and made it clear that he had not been charged with any crime.
The last time a U.K. broadcaster received a flood of complaints was in March, when talk show host Piers Morgan commented about Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Morgan’s comments dismissing the duchess’s account of suffering suicidal thoughts and racism in the monarchy drew more than 57,000 complaints.