Author Topic: OFF AIR ???  (Read 94 times)

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Offline Truthyness

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OFF AIR ???
« on: July 21, 2017, 02:49:53 AM »
July 28 from 09.00 - 19.00
Radio 4

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/programmes/schedules/2017/07/28
is announcing the BBC will be off air!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/programmes/schedules/2017/07/29
Declared there is no schedule!

Sunday July 30th has a similar announcement!
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/programmes/schedules/2017/07/30

'pon my soul, what IS going on?

Or might it be that the schedule has not yet been posted on line?
« Last Edit: July 21, 2017, 02:52:20 AM by Truthyness »

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Offline Ed

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Don't Panic, Capt. Mainwaring!
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2017, 02:00:47 PM »
I used to see this quite a lot in the old days.

Whenever the automatics find a gap in the station's schedules, the website's software thinks the station is off-air, and displays a message accordingly, until someone fills in the gap with programme details.

You'll notice that this filling-in has now happened for July 28th, but if you look at some of the dates for the following week you'll see that where no broadcast information has yet been posted the software defaults to announcing the station is off-air: naturally, because its machine-logic doesn't include artificial intelligence.

We, being real(?), "know" that the Beeb won't broadcast silence, because licence payers would object. But the machine, not being real, doesn't understand that concept: no schedule means no broadcast during that period, in terms of its machine logic.


This is actually rather an interesting exercise in the sport of what was formerly termed 'Kremlin-watching'. A practice indulged in by bored journalists during the days of the Cold War.

We observe some external indications, which we use to deduce things about (in this case) the Beeb's internal activities.

For example, I've noticed over the years - and today you noticed it too - that the station's schedules are only posted about a week in advance, even though Jon Pertwee explained in various interviews over the years that the BBC schedules are nowadays finalised about 18 months ahead of time. He used to complain bitterly about it.

Now, we "know" (i.e. we presume) that because 4 Extra is not a normal station - since it is not a production department - that its schedules are actually much easier to fix than, say, those of Radio 4 - as the latter actually has to make the programmes it airs. So we can deduce that being the Scheduler for 4 Extra is easy - all you do is nominate a list of already existing shows held in the Archives.

Thus we can suppose that the station's schedules are already finalised for the next 18 months at least.

However, nothing is posted on the website schedule until 7 days prior to its air-date. I could actually do nearly as well by consulting the Radio Times, which traditionally goes to print about a week ahead of its on-sale date. The RT's staff are given the schedules for printing (or used to be) about ten days before I pick up the magazine off the newsstand in WH Smith.

Presumably, someone releases the schedules to RT for compositing about 7 days before the on-sale day, which is about ten days before the first air-date for that week's issue; so, presumably, that same someone also delivers those schedules to the BBC's website staff for posting at that same time.

Presumably, the schedules are not posted anywhere until RT is sent to the printers, so that late breaking changes can be incorporated: big schedule changes might be made at the last minute, e.g. the Queen Mother dies suddenly, or smaller changes can be made when a celeb or BBC presenter dies, e.g. when Terry Wogan died they were able to insert a tribute programme very quickly.

It's only speculation, but that seems to be what is behind the oddly phrased announcement you saw on the schedules for next week: otherwise they could post these schedules months, maybe years, in advance.








« Last Edit: July 21, 2017, 02:27:14 PM by Ed »

Offline Truthyness

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Re: OFF AIR ???
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2017, 09:53:07 PM »
Fangs Ed! Methought the end of the world was nigh!
!!!!!!!!!! :o

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