BBC receives nearly 110,000 complaints about Prince Philip coverage

Prince Philip's death prompted the publicly-funded broadcaster to scrap its entire schedule on its main BBC One and BBC Two television channels. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - BBC coverage following the death of Queen Elizabeth II's husband Prince Philip led to nearly 110,000 complaints about cancelled programmes and cleared schedules, the corporation said on Thursday (April 15).

The Duke of Edinburgh's death at the age of 99 last Friday prompted the publicly-funded broadcaster to scrap its entire schedule on its main BBC One and BBC Two television channels to simultaneously broadcast the same coverage of his life.

Popular soap opera EastEnders and the cooking competition Masterchef were cancelled and the BBC Four channel was taken completely off air.

BBC radio stations also changed their programming following the prince's death, either broadcasting news programmes or abruptly switching to play the national anthem when the news was announced.

According to the BBC's fortnightly complaints bulletin, 109,741 complaints over the coverage of Philip's death were made by Thursday.

Of those, 104,010 were made in the first three days after the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.

Many of the complaints were made via an online form on the BBC website.

In response, the BBC said in a statement it "acknowledged some viewers were unhappy" over the impact to planned schedules.

"We do not make such changes without careful consideration and the decisions made reflect the role the BBC plays as the national broadcaster, during moments of national significance," it added.

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The amount of criticism over the coverage is believed to be the largest ever received by the BBC.

But a spokesman told AFP: "We are proud of our coverage and the role we play during moments of national significance."

The broadcaster reported it had received 63,000 complaints in 2005 when it broadcast the controversial musical Jerry Springer: The Opera about the 1990s US talk-show host.

The BBC has received criticism for its inclusion of Prince Andrew in its coverage because of the Queen and Philip's second son's association with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, as well as the tone of its programming.

Other British networks also changed their schedules following Philip's death.

Commercial Channel 4 came under fire for largely keeping to its schedule, with the exception of airing some documentaries about the duke's life.

Viewing figures across the channels fell because of the wall-to-wall coverage.

Gogglebox, a television programme about people watching television programmes, was the most-watched show of the day last Friday.

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