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Last Updated: Friday, 11 February, 2005, 12:17 GMT
Royal coverage 'was over the top'
By Matt Holder

Did the BBC go overboard in its coverage of the Charles and Camilla wedding story? Did the story justify so much airtime - as well as a BBC News Special? Not according to some viewers and listeners.

Camilla Parker Bowles shows her engagement ring
It was news but did it warrant the amount of attention it received?

Few people would deny that the future King's marriage announcement was news and needed to be reported.

But what rankled the many people who called and emailed the BBC was the amount of coverage the story was given.

Every programme from the Six O'Clock News on BBC One to the World at One on Radio Four received calls to complain about too much coverage, one accusing news teams of being "on the verge of hysteria".

'A belly-full'

Sean Martin e-mailed in to say: "Please, please, please give us all a break from Charles and Camilla.

"I personally feel the public have had more than a belly-full of the whole scenario."

Simon Brownsill wrote: "Please give it a rest about Prince C and Camilla.

"The vast majority of people in this country, myself and my family really don't care and would rather hear about some other more meaningful news."

And Simon Whomsley questioned the running orders: "Camilla and Charles to marry; Pope returns home; North Korea has confirmed it has nuclear weapons.

4.1m people (20% audience share) watched the 7pm News Special on BBC One
1.4m page views for lead story on BBC News website - one of the highest ever figures
1.1m (25% audience share) watched the 10am News Special on BBC One
1.6m (25% audience share) watched the 12.30pm News Special on BBC One

"What is happening in the world? This is the order that the news was presented tonight! Absolutely amazing."

On the same subject, Mike Taulty wrote: "On the Ten O'Clock News you seemed to spend 15 minutes on Prince Charles getting married and then you switched to 'other news'.

"The first item of the 'other news' was...North Korea has admitted that it has nuclear weapons and has withdrawn from talks.

"How do you prioritise Prince Charles above a story that potentially has ramifications for World security?"

'Tabloid gossip column'

The time devoted to the story on bulletins annoyed many people.

Martin Barlett wrote: "I have just watched the Six O'Clock News - or should I say the Charles and Camilla news, as 3/4 of it was solely about them and not about the other things happening all over the World.

"I was of the opinion that the BBC was a quality broadcaster and not a tabloid gossip column."

Charles and Camilla screen grab
Did the BBC need a News Special after so much coverage earlier?

Dozens of people also called in to complain that the BBC News Special: Charles and Camilla at 7pm on BBC One saw programmes such as Wildlife on One dropped.

Rachel Willetts said: "I was shocked, and perhaps even disappointed that BBC News, the most respected public service in the world, should devote a 'news special' to a story which, quite frankly, nobody really cares about."

And Kate Snowden added: "Whilst finding the news mildly interesting, I fail to see how it warrants a 'special programme' at 7pm which means you postpone the Wildlife on One which I have been eagerly awaiting.

"This is a 'double whammy', as it is sadly the last in what I consider to be one of your better and more unique contributions."

Massive audience

In response, the BBC said on its Complaints website: "The BBC believes the announcement about the heir to the throne is an important news story that not only merits coverage across our scheduled news bulletins but deserves to be reported in separate programmes.

"We recognise that not all viewers are interested in stories relating to the Royal Family, but equally there is a significant audience who do wish to be informed of such decisions."

Although it might not have pleased everyone, the News Special did pull in an audience of 4.1 million people - the second most popular programme in its slot apart from Emmerdale.

Earlier news specials also saw millions of people tune in.

And the Charles and Camilla lead article was the most-read story of the day on the BBC News website, with more than one million page impressions. Related articles also drew in a lot of readers.


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