BBC defends its decision to show extensive coverage of Whitney Houston’s funeral
The BBC issued a statement in a lengthy defense of its decision to show extensive coverage of Whitney Houston’s funeral.
BBC was forced into the response after receiving 118 complaints about the way the broadcaster’s news channel had remained “glued” to the ceremony on Saturday, sparking accusations that it had been “voyeuristic”.
The British broadcaster admitted that the “duration” of its coverage was “too long” for some viewers and said it was “sorry” it was not to the “satisfaction” of all its audience.
However, BBC said the singer had made a “substantial impact on late twentieth century music” and that her death had come as “a great shock to the wider music industry and to her millions of fans”.
In its response,BBC admitted that the funeral service had lasted “significantly longer” than any broadcasters had expected and said once it had “committed” to showing the ceremony it would not have been “appropriate” to “opt out” any earlier than it did.
For some viewers BBC’s decision to focus so much time on the ceremony sparked concerns that other events were not being given enough coverage.
Another viewer said: “Much as I understand sadness at the death of Whitney Houston would BBC and Sky kindly get on to some real news.”
“Kinda weird that Sky News and BBC News 24 are live streaming Whitney Houston’s Funeral. Feels voyeuristic,” added another viewer.
Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, R Kelly and a host of gospel stars performed at Saturday’s service at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey.
Actor Kevin Costner, who starred with Houston in The Bodyguard, fought back tears as he gave a moving eulogy.
The BBC, which is also understood to have received about 35 complaints that it had interrupted coverage of the service, said the decision to air the funeral had been made “very carefully”.
BBC statement said: “We know from our audiences across the BBC as a whole that there was significant interest in the death of Whitney Houston, and we wanted to provide for that audience full, live coverage of the occasion.
“This was the funeral of a recording artist who had a substantial impact on late twentieth century music and whose death had come as a great shock to the wider music industry and to her millions of fans.
“This was reflected in our viewing figures and they show that the coverage of the funeral drove significantly higher audiences for the News Channel during this period compared to the rest of Saturday.
“We recognize that the duration of the coverage was too long for some viewers, but we kept the news ticker going on screen throughout and those who wanted other news of the day could have turned over to BBC 1 for the main tea time bulletin there.
“The funeral of Whitney Houston gave us an opportunity to bring a significant and moving story live to our audience. We are sorry if this wasn’t to the satisfaction of all our viewers but it is part of the News Channel function to be there when major stories take place, and we felt that this was such an occasion.”
A BBC spokeswoman said: “The News Channel’s coverage of Whitney Houston’s funeral reflected the significant interest in her sudden death as well as acknowledging the impact she had as a global recording artist.
“While some people felt there was too much coverage, we kept the news ticker going throughout, BBC1 ran the main teatime bulletin and there were normal radio bulletins along with the website and mobile app services, providing viewers with the best access to the day’s other news stories.”
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