Sir David, who in his six decades of broadcasting was once the Controller of BBC Two and later Director of Programmes, has questioned the BBC’s decision to provide wall-to-wall coverage of the Rio Olympics spread across its television, radio and online platforms.
He says: “It would be nice if someone said, ‘Well, actually there are a few people in the country who don’t want necessarily to see people with very few clothes on jumping off something.”
He agrees it is only one fortnight every four years that gets this kind of blanket coverage, but adds he’d like it if “someone had actually sat around and said,’What are we going to provide for the people who don’t watch sport?’”
Bearing in mind the debacle over the BBC’s recent loss of its highest-rating show ‘Bake Off’ to Channel Four, his comments might strike a chord with many when he says that the BBC is the one organisation who can settle for a minority audience on one of its channels.
He says: “The BBC is the one organization that can do that. It can say, ‘Ok, we don’t mind, there are people who don’t watch sport, we will provide them with something worth watching.”
While the BBC’s coverage of Rio 2016 was praised for its wide-ranging focus on different sports, one criticism was the decision to spread the coverage across different channels, which often meant channel-hopping at a critical point in proceedings.
One viewer tweeted that “without the remote control, I’d have run an entire marathon myself getting up to change channels”.
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