Friday, November 27, 2009

BBC Shipping forecast error

Article in The Register by Lewis Page on 25 November 2009

Parts of the first shipping forecast transmitted on Sunday November 15 - specifically the storm force winds - were actually the same ones sent out early on the previous day. This led to confusion for ships and boats in UK and adjacent waters, as the Force 11 winds predicted off the West Country had actually passed, while other regions were being hard hit.

According to the BBC "The late night announcer at the end of the shift pulled out an email of what she thought was the right shipping forecast and read it out completely unaware it was the wrong forecast. “All I can say is that I am most terribly sorry we got that wrong this was a big error on our part"

Apparently professional seafarers receive the shipping forecast by other, automated means (e.g. NAVTEX text receivers)and yachtsmen and small craft mostly tend to use the inshore-waters Marine VHF broadcasts made by coastguard stations.

The article makes the point that this "does reinforce the lesson that one does well to rely on the professionals - Met office, Coastguard etc, not the BBC or any other media/entertainment organisation - when lives are at stake." Fair enough, but those organisations can also make mistakes.

Andy Brazier

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