The broadcaster had cleared its scheduled on BBC One and BBC Two to show more than 24 hours of programmes about the Duke of Edinburgh following his death on Friday, with planned scheduling now back in place since 2pm on Saturday. But the BBC soon sparked fury with its decision to axe programmes on Friday evening in favour of pre-recorded tributes, forcing it to open a dedicated form on its website to handle all of the complaints. This is often a standard approach from the Corporation, to deal with large volumes of complaints on a temporary basis, The Guardian has reported.
The BBC has not revealed how many complaints it received via that online form, but it is understood to hit a rate at which they had been starting to fall.
A message on the BBC website read: “We’re receiving complaints about too much TV coverage of the death of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
“Please enter your email address below to register a complaint about this – we’ll then send you the BBC’s response as soon as it is available.”
Jim Waterson, media editor of the Guardian, said: “The BBC, having adopted wall-to-wall Prince Philip coverage to avoid being criticised in parts of the media and politics, has now received so many complaints about their wall-to-wall coverage they’ve set up a streamlined form to complain about it.”
On Wednesday, a bulletin of complaints published every two weeks is scheduled to be revealed.
Audience figures on Saturday revealed viewers had been switching off after the UK’s main broadcasters aired non-stop coverage of Philip’s death.
The BBC removed popular programmes such as EastEnders, Gardeners’ World and the final of MasterChef of Friday evening, while BBC Four was taken off air completely with viewers provided with a notice urging them to switch over to BBC One.
Ratings for BBC One plummeted six percent on the previous week, according to analysis of viewing figures by Deadline, while BBC Two lost two-thirds of its audience, with an average of just 340,000 people watching in the four hour period between 7pm and 11pm.
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Defund The BBC, the campaign group aiming to decriminalise and make the TV licence cover content only shown on the BBC, also hit out.
The group tweeted: “Disgraceful!
“The anti-British BBC has set up a form to encourage complaints about the coverage of Prince Philip’s death.”
Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of the Bow Group think tank, also lashed out at the BBC and accused the broadcaster of “prompting a response” by establishing the complaint form.
He said: “When the BBC put out things that are more in accordance with figures of the left, no such opportunity to complain is promoted. It is quite clear that there is an imbalance.”
Early on Friday morning, Buckingham Palace announced Philip had sadly died that morning.
The palace said in a statement: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.
“The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”