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The Changing Face Of Tv Forecasts - Your Opinion

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Welcome to the second weekly talking point! This week the subject is:

The Changing Face Of TV Forecasts - What's Your Opinion?

Quite a topical one this week after today's stories in the press that a few of the better known BBC forecasters may be moving to different jobs..

Below are a few ideas / questions to hopefully get the discussion rolling!

The forecasts in the past were presented in a much more scientific and technical manner, whereas in recent times the trend has been to simplify things, do you think this has had a positive or negative impact?

The BBC national weather is still presented by forecasters employed by the Met-Office, do you think this is necessary? Many of the regional programs and the forecasts on other channels are often presented by TV presenters, do you find this makes a difference to the overall presentation and accuracy of the forecast?

Do you think enough time is dedicated to the weather forecast on the TV?

With the internet now the way many people get their daily fix of news and weather, are television forecasts as relevant as they used to be?

As with the first weekly talking point, everyone is welcome to get involved in this discussion, so please do get stuck in - the items above are purely to get the ball rolling so please don't feel you have to comment on or answer them. The only requirement is that your posts are based on the original question/topic.

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Well for me, I still like to watch the weather forecast on the television. I find ITV's forecasters or so called meteorologists absolutely terrible. I can't believe they get paid to say what the weather will be like for the next 24 hours in about 1 minute! ITV's forecasters seem like they have no clue what they are talking about.

On the other hand, BBC's weather forecasts are very good. I do think its necessary that the BBC have people who are employed with the Metoffice to present the weather - It does make a lot of difference. You can tell this because after the regional news sometimes in Wales, a newspresenter broadcasts the weather instead of Derek Brockway who has worked with the Metoffice. I could tell that the newspresenter was more unsure of what to say and had limited knowledge on the weather.

Even though the Internet is used by almost everyone, there are still alot of people i think who rely on TV weather forecasts, especially BBC. It's also good to look around on different weather websites to get a better understanding of the weather and to see which websites and TV forecasts are more accurate than others.

TV forecasts are very simple...And i think this is good. The more easy to understand, the better. Do people really need to know Cape or Lifted index? Only if they are really hoping for a good Thunderstorm. "Basic" Temperature, Weather, Wind & Pressure is all people need to know.

I'm always going onto the BBC red button on Sky to check the weather i think it's great

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In my view the future of weather forecasts lies primarily in the internet but there will always be a place for standard TV & radio forecasts, as not everybody uses the internet heavily.

I think, with just the odd honourable exception here and there, media forecasts other than the BBC national ones have always been very simplistic. The problem with being too simplistic is that it perpetuates lack of understanding and doesn't help to stimulate viewers into developing an interest in meteorology. They also tend to be filled to the brim with value judgements like "at least it will be mild" and "sunshine and showers I'm afraid, but hopefully the north-east coast of England will escape with the best of the day's weather, where it will be cloudy but essentially dry". This not only annoys viewers with different preferences but also confuses viewers if their perceptions of good and bad weather don't match, and end up making plans based on a misinterpretation of what the forecast was really predicting.

The BBC national ones, until the last decade, were always an escape-hatch from this. I think the main problem with the 1990s BBC forecasts wasn't the level of detail, but rather that the forecasts often started with a detailed synoptic analysis (during which many non-enthusiasts would switch off) and only then went onto the forecast itself. The better modern-day BBC forecasts improve on this by spreading the synoptic analysis through the forecast instead. However, over the last decade there's been a growing tendency for many BBC forecasts to feature a minimum of detail and a tendency to obsess over reassuring viewers about "good" weather (e.g. the forecast crossing fingers for a return of mild weather for Christmas Day, or the Whit Holiday forecast reassuring us all that it would be a nice day, and totally missing the area of drizzle over E Scotland and NE England). That's why I often talk of "BBC inching in the direction of ITV".

Conversely, BBC's regional North East forecasts seem to have moved in the opposite direction- especially since the graphics change they seem to have become more informative and less subjective, though I don't know if this is representative of the country as a whole.

Here's an interesting link from 2005:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4310702.stm

So the Met Office wanted simpler forecasts, but the quote "forecasters should just give the temperatures, and say if they are above or below the yearly average, and let the public decide if they are good or bad." suggests that the increased subjectivity is due to the BBC and not the MetO. Unfortunately I expect the trend towards a minimum of information and a maximum of subjectivity to both increase in the media as time goes by- it is all geared towards catering for business and people driving to and from work, and social/recreational benefits of different types of weather are ignored. With this in mind I expect weather enthusiasts to become especially reliant on the internet rather than the media, and far more so than non-enthusiasts.

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True - I think there should be a balance between TV forecasts given out too much information to too little information. Really what we need is for TV forecasts (such as BBC) to give out just enough detail to cover the basics, plus the odd more techical detail, while not overloading viewers with information, like...

. Temperature

. Wind speed/direction

. Pressure chart outlinig where the high/low pressure systems are

. Rainfall graphics

. Precipitation type

. Expected cloudcover

. Storm Risk

. Radar Update - where the rain/sleet/hail/snow is falling at the moment + it's expected track

I feel with the Rainfall Graphics, the TV forecasts could adopt a Rainfall Intensity Key with the colours on the key corresponding to the colours on the Rainfall Graphics. For example: light blue could mean very light rain/snow (about 0.5 mm per hour). I think this could be useful for knowing not only where the heaviest of the rain/snow could be, but also how heavy it is expected to be.

Obviously, it would not be wise to fill the whole TV forecasts with graphics and other elements, as the weather presenters also need their input to explain what the weather is going to do for the current and next few days.

I do personally hope that TV forecasts (like BBC) don't go down the "minimum of information and increased in subjectivety" route as, with the latter, I don't really see any point in doing this when we all have our own weather preferences. What could be a nice cold snowy day to one person, maybe a horrible wintry day to someone else. So the less opinionated the forecast, the better I think.

Do you think enough time is dedicated to the weather forecast on the TV?

Although I agree that weather forecasts will move more and more into a digital online sector, I feel that more time should be dedicated to weather forecasts on TV. I mean, it's fair to say that TV channels like BBC and ITV do effectively spread out their forecasts with morning, afternoon, evening and night-time slots, but then again you're probably talking of 15 minutes worth of weather forecasts making up the programming schedule on both these channels. When you consider the amount of TV weather forecasts other TV stations do (although I admit I don't know what it's like on all channels), I feel this is not enough. The reason I think this is because...

1. Not everyone starts or finish school/work at the same time and/or has more than the 5 standard TV channels.

2. Not everyone has access to the internet.

As such, some of the major TV channels delivering a weather forecast every hour would be advisable I reckon, and should mean no one misses out. Plus, let's say there was some serious weather approaching, the hourly TV weather forecasts would be very useful (even though the upcoming TV programs would probably be interupted anyway, depending how severe the weather event was).

So on the whole, less subjective TV weather forecasts with an increased frequency in the forecasts on the main Television stations, would be the ways I think TV weather forecasts should improve. :)

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It has been severely dumbed down in the last decade to such a point that most of the forecasts are now nonsense.

The broad and sweeping generalisations that they now make (as stated byTWS) has meant that they now tend to be wrong in the forecasts they make.

Worst of all though is the airheads now employed to deliver this tripe and the poor blobs that are meant to represent cutting edge graphics! Rant over :)

Stick to netweather I say!

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I personally very rarely watch the forecast on TV now as I get everything I need to know from the internet. I personally would like to see a bit more technical depth in some of the forecasts. Maybe there should be two forecasts per hour on news 24, one in depth and another dumbed down and less detailed.

In the detailed I would like to see

Pressure

thickness layer

Cape and lift

Height of the 0C isotherm

and so forth. More talk about causes rather than effects etc.

In the less detailed, to keep everything as it is.

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I was a 50’s and 60’s child, the BBC TV weather forecast in those day’s were virtually all technical, and remember almost never missing a broadcast, especially during winter time. My love for cold weather and the forecast of snow was probably the main driver for me to learn. I was constantly fascinated and had a huge hunger to learn more, and with time understood all of the weather presentations with ease.

To be quite honest, I am not impressed at all with all the pretty graphics and animations these days. And also in my opinion, the way most weather forecasts are dumbed down only to appeal to the lowest common denominator does not encourage younger people to learn more.

Yes the internet has been my saviour.

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Ggggrrrrrrrr......I hate the way that presenters refer to temperatures as "our numbers" and clear skies as "our blue". Who are they aiming these forecasts at? Nincompoops? What is wrong with using appropriate words like "temperatures" and "clear skies"? Do they think we are completely and utterly stupid and thick? It REALLY WINDS ME UP. :wallbash::aggressive::wallbash::aggressive::wallbash::aggressive:

I shall now have a little lie down to recover my composure.

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Who are they aiming these forecasts at?

The mass population I'm afraid.

I would guess most people (probably the majority in this country) with just a passing interest in the weather, relative to their daily activities or an outside event, just want a précis of the likely weather before they make a judgement on what they can or will do today or tomorrow.

I think we sometimes forget that as keen weather watchers (I guess that's the main reason we are members??!!!) we are looking for a lot more detail and a lot more accuracy a lot further out. Joe Public wants to know if the sports are going to be rained off, if they can walk the dog tonight without getting wet or have a BBQ on Saturday.

Although I agree there has been an element of 'dumbing down' over the years, I think that's more related to the style of media presentation these days and sound-bite TV in particular.

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I'm going to be different in opinion from everyone else.

The majority of people watching tv for the forecast just want to know a brief synopsis of what to expect the next day and whether there will be any extremes - ie extreme heat, snow, flooding, strong winds. I think most tv forecasts provide adequate enough detail for this.

Anybody dependent on the weather workwise, will look to a more indepth forecast and I doubt that would be a 2 min precis after the news. That is where sites such as netweather, and those that provide the shipping forecasts etc, are hugely important.

Of course on a personal level, and being a fan of the weather, I don't find any short bulletin style forecasts particularly informative and would always look elsewhere.

So in short, I think what we have on tv at the moment is probably perfectly sufficient if appealing to the masses BUT I would love to see one of the big channels do a more detailed look at the weather once a week where they gave an overview of why we are getting the weather we are, what is affecting it, whether the temps are above or below average etc. I think that might encourage more people to look a little deeper and take it a little more seriously. I know Countryfile touch on it, but I still want a bit more.

Oh and regarding "Eye Candy" presenters, I don't think ANY show should employ presenters purely on looks and age alone but sadly tv seems to be all about Boobs not Brains...

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Oh and regarding "Eye Candy" presenters, I don't think ANY show should employ presenters purely on looks and age alone but sadly tv seems to be all about Boobs not Brains...

Helen Willitts was pretty good for both - Laura Tobin is alright too (after a few pints)

Agree with most of the rest of your post as the average Joe probably isn't interested in too much detail and would not be engaged by too much technical stuff. That said, I don't know if I would have developed such an interest in the weather if BBC forecasts in the early 80s were the same as today.

On a local level (London), Peter Cockcroft always does an excellent forecast on BBC london evening news, although he is an ex national forecaster, so one would expect a certain level of confidence. The girl who does the morning local forecast on breakfast is pretty good and she is just a presenter.

ITV not even worth talking about

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I was a 50’s and 60’s child, the BBC TV weather forecast in those day’s were virtually all technical, and remember almost never missing a broadcast, especially during winter time. My love for cold weather and the forecast of snow was probably the main driver for me to learn. I was constantly fascinated and had a huge hunger to learn more, and with time understood all of the weather presentations with ease.

To be quite honest, I am not impressed at all with all the pretty graphics and animations these days. And also in my opinion, the way most weather forecasts are dumbed down only to appeal to the lowest common denominator does not encourage younger people to learn more.

Yes the internet has been my saviour.

Yes pretty much my thinking too Paul.

Oh for return of the isobars and fronts on the charts.

I certainly learned a lot from the early broadcasts when i was still at school and like you found the forecasts well presented and easy to understand.

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I would have to say that I as a rule do not ever give ITV the time of day when it comes to forecasts because their information is often a good 12+ hours out of date which is one reason they are so far from mark. They pre-record the weather often the evening before the morning shows so if there has been a change it isnt updated and they get so many mistakes

BBc national I think has a hard job in getting the forecast out to alot of the populous in the time slot so it has to be dumbed down greatly although meto forecasters are by far better.

Local weather forecast I will often watch with Richard, Ian F and some blonde which are often quite good, however there are differences between those 3 also with Ian always giving as much regional geographic detail as possible with a little tech talk and then the blonde i cannot remember giving very little.

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To be honest I think the BBC are doing a very good job at providing a forecast fitting to their audience. The vast majority of the public just want to know what the weather is doing in their area and know whether or not it will affect their plans. They want to know that information as quickly as possible and aren't in the slightest bit worried about how that weather has come about.

However, the BBC also provide for their viewers who would like to know more detail about the weather and over a longer range; the Sunday Countryfile forecast for the week ahead. Forecasters go much more in depth and state the reasoning behind the forecast. For a person who relies more on the weather,they don't mind watching a 5 minute forecast if it means getting the information they want.

My pet hate are weather forecasts which are infact false because the presenters are not at all educated in Meteorology. Just watch a Channel 4 weather forecast. If the presenter says it's going to be 10C tomorrow, they don't seem to have a clue if that feels warm or cold. They simply read a forecast and then present it, and often present it wrongly because they have understood the forecast wrongly.

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Oh and regarding "Eye Candy" presenters, I don't think ANY show should employ presenters purely on looks and age alone but sadly tv seems to be all about Boobs not Brains...

very true it would seem; this started at least 20 years ago. There are two lady meteorologists from that era, who were on TV, no I will not name them, who were very angry about how the BBC, with it has to be said, some support from a very senior member of the Met O staff who, went along with this idea.

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To be honest I think the BBC are doing a very good job at providing a forecast fitting to their audience. The vast majority of the public just want to know what the weather is doing in their area and know whether or not it will affect their plans. They want to know that information as quickly as possible and aren't in the slightest bit worried about how that weather has come about.

Helen Willitts was pretty good for both - Laura Tobin is alright too (after a few pints)

Agree with most of the rest of your post as the average Joe probably isn't interested in too much detail and would not be engaged by too much technical stuff. That said, I don't know if I would have developed such an interest in the weather if BBC forecasts in the early 80s were the same as today.

As Terminal Moraine points out, Suffolkboy's post above is a common misconception- it's all too easy, particularly when many of us weather enthusiasts reside at one extreme of the spectrum, to portray the vast majority of the public as lying at the opposite extreme (i.e. one of total disinterest in the weather). Most people actually fall between the two positions, having nothing like the level of interest that many of us do, but it is common for people to have a mild interest in the association of low pressure and fronts with rain, or appreciate a nice sunset.

Having forecasts that cater only for people at the "completely disinterested" extreme doesn't just do the hardcore minority of weather enthusiasts a disservice, it also does a disservice to the many people in the middle who have a passing interest in the weather, and hinders the chances of them developing their passing understanding and/or interest into something more substantial. There is also a serious downside to tailoring individual forecasts to assumed audience demographics- it marginalises those who don't fit the assumed demographic (e.g. people who just want to know what tomorrow afternoon's weather will be are likely to switch off upon the "8am panning around the country to tell us what the drive to work will be like"). There needs to be more of a balance.

I think the "subjectivity" problem is related to this misconception, for the preferred weather types that are expected of Joe Public are overwhelmingly consistent with a complete disinterest in the weather (e.g. things like thunderstorms, snow events and striking cloud formations tend to be very popular with many weather enthusiasts and are widely despised by those with a complete disinterest because of the inconvenience and disruption that they cause). Unfortunately with the "all that matters is work and economy" line being so prevalent I feel that weather enthusiasts, in particular, are being marginalised by the mainstream media.

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very true it would seem; this started at least 20 years ago. There are two lady meteorologists from that era, who were on TV, no I will not name them, who were very angry about how the BBC, with it has to be said, some support from a very senior member of the Met O staff who, went along with this idea.

Sex sells though at the end of the day and I would be lieing if I was to say I didnt like laura tobin or look forward to those forecasts... :rolleyes:

Oh dear i feel a warm front coming over. :oops:

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I think the "subjectivity" problem is related to this misconception, for the preferred weather types that are expected of Joe Public are overwhelmingly consistent with a complete disinterest in the weather (e.g. things like thunderstorms, snow events and striking cloud formations tend to be very popular with many weather enthusiasts and are widely despised by those with a complete disinterest because of the inconvenience and disruption that they cause). Unfortunately with the "all that matters is work and economy" line being so prevalent I feel that weather enthusiasts, in particular, are being marginalised by the mainstream media.

Perhaps the BBC should look at different types of forecast for different time slots on BBC1

Maybe the 1pm and 10pm forecast should be a fairly generic one with a longer time slot and more technical analysis for the 6pm forecast.

They do or course also have to worry about BBC2, weatherview, N24 and BBC world as well as radio broadcasts (which frustratingly often have a great deal of analysis without the benefit of graphics).

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Sex sells though at the end of the day and I would be lieing if I was to say I didnt like laura tobin or look forward to those forecasts... :rolleyes:

Oh dear i feel a warm front coming over. :oops:

John Hammond is nice, but I haven't seen him for a while. Also, I gather that Mr Schaffernaker (?sp) is disappearing to a behind-the-scenes role.

My all-time favourite is Ian McCaskill.

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Sex sells though at the end of the day and I would be lieing if I was to say I didnt like laura tobin or look forward to those forecasts... :rolleyes:

Oh dear i feel a warm front coming over. :oops:

And, being a trained meteorologist she can talk techie as well :oops: :blush:

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Perhaps the BBC should look at different types of forecast for different time slots on BBC1

I guess to an extent they do cater for that with the Countryfile (tracks?) forecast which is a longer range, slightly more detailed presentation. Lets face it, we will never be happy on here with the brief time available on television, thank god for Mr Fish's input on NW!

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very true it would seem; this started at least 20 years ago. There are two lady meteorologists from that era, who were on TV, no I will not name them, who were very angry about how the BBC, with it has to be said, some support from a very senior member of the Met O staff who, went along with this idea.

I remember Barbara Edwards and Suzanne Charlton, and they gave top-notch presentations; they clearly both knew their meteorology!

Did it all turn bad when Sian Lloyd (have I got the name right?) came along???

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I watch the Sunday forecasts religiously but the rest of the week I can take or leave unless I know something of interest is coming up.

I will however miss Rob's raised eyebrows and hints of something severe in the offing [if the rumours are true. It is like he cannot hide his excitement if there is something of interest coming.

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Aye, I remember Suzanne Charlton was pretty good, as were Helen Young and Isobel Lang (who were also very good on The Weather Show if I remember rightly). In fact I can't recall a single BBC national weather presenter from the '90s that I had a less-than-positive opinion of, and Michael Fish, John Kettley, Ian McCaskill and Bill Giles stand out in the memory for being particularly good (Michael Fish of course is still going strong on N-W and on the local BBC south-coast weather).

Perhaps the BBC should look at different types of forecast for different time slots on BBC1

They already do that- it's described in the Weather journal as "moving away from the 'one size fits all' approach". I haven't watched enough BBC national forecasts to be sure of how consistently this is implemented, but it would be interesting to see if the large differences in "quality" from one forecast to another are more dependent on the time slot than the presenter (time allocation is also likely to be affected by this policy shift).

I can see a case for doing that in moderation, but what the Beeb have to be careful of is that if they tailor a particular time slot too squarely towards one section of the population (e.g. people with no interest in the weather who just want to know if there will be disruption for the 8am drive to work tomorrow morning) it risks putting out everyone who doesn't fall into that category. If that's the main cause of some of the more subjective/non-informative bulletins that I've seen recently, and the "taking ages to pan around the UK at 8am" syndrome, it suggests that they've gone too far the other way.

In essence, "one size fits all" does have its drawbacks, but so does "the size at time slot X fits A, the size at time slot Y fits B, so if you don't fit into the expected audience demographic you have to find the time slot that is most appropriate for you via trial and error, else you are short-changed"- so what is needed is a balance.

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I remember Barbara Edwards and Suzanne Charlton, and they gave top-notch presentations; they clearly both knew their meteorology!

Did it all turn bad when Sian Lloyd (have I got the name right?) came along???

I remember Suzanne and Barbara too Pete.They were very good.

No one has mentioned Louise Lear, a very competent presenter as well as being easy on the eye for a more mature viewer like me.:rolleyes:

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