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Bbc Forecasts Manifesto

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Thundery wintry showers


I think there is a lot wrong with the current generation of BBC weather forecasts, but it's no good just sitting whining non-constructively. Here's a list of changes that I would like to see in the forecasts:


I suggest less emphasis on the current day's weather. Just a brief outline perhaps, briefly mentioning any significant events, then straight into the forecast. Also, we don't need that tour of Britain for 8am, it takes up valuable forecast time covering the country in micro-detail, and mainly just the south. People switch off because it takes ages for them to get the forecast for their area for the next day. I think they should just stick with showing the whole country at once.

Synoptic analysis should be included, but should be integrated into the main body of the forecast rather than preceding it. This is because, contrary to the BBC's assertions, people switched off at the synoptic analysis mainly because it preceded forecasts and took ages to get into the forecast itself, not because they felt "disenfranchised". So to quote a simplistic example, instead of having a series of synoptic charts and then the forecast, we could have synoptic chart, forecast for day 1, synoptic chart for day 2, forecast for day 2 etc. That way people get the information, but it is spread out over the forecast and only occurs for brief periods at a time, so people don't switch off.

I suggest going back to the old tradition of simply presenting the information without bias, rather than introducing a lot of subjectivity. There is plenty of scope for non-subjective ways to make a forecast sound jolly and interesting, like "you might need a brolly", "scorching hot", "it'll feel nippy out there" etc.

Presenting a lot of subjectivity not only annoys people who don't share the same set of weather type preferences as the presenter is suggesting, it also misleads people- this goes for both positive and negative spin. A forecast for sunshine and showers where "rainy unsettled awful weather" is emphasised will mislead people into thinking it's going to be mainly dull and wet. A forecast for dry mild cloudy windy weather where "staying fine and dry and mild" is emphasised will mislead people into thinking there might be a fair amount of sunshine and not much wind.
The forecasters' job is to tell us what the weather is going to be, not to educate us as to what types of weather we should and shouldn't like. The rest of the media does enough of that already. And no, there isn't a set of weather type preferences that are shared by the vast majority. That's just the media trying to marginalise any opinions that differ from the opinions it thinks we should have.

The Met Office, Philip Eden etc. are perfectly capable of keeping subjectivity to a minimum- why did the BBC stop?


I think most of the problem with the "new-style" graphics is the changes to the forecast presentations that they've brought in with them. The graphics themselves can be used to good effect, as the regional and Countryfile forecasts often demonstrate. Thus I'm not one of those who campaigns for the return of the old-style look- for me they're about six and two threes.

I note that the BBC often says the current forecasts are the best because "research" shows that most people wanted the changes and find them very helpful. My question is, is this research representative or have they just done the usual tactic of wording a survey to get the answers they want from people? Judging by their defensiveness over this "research" I guess it's more likely to be the latter.
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