Five Live and George Best on the BBC Homepage

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 25 November 2005

There was a lot of sport coverage on the BBC homepage today, for two very differing reasons.

I was very pleased to see Radio Five Live's Greatest Team of All Time vote on the homepage. We know from previous experience with the Five Live Sporting Century and the Today programme's Greatest Painting votes that a homepage promotion is a real driver for people to participate in the vote, much more so than on-air trails. I think on-air trails provide a useful function in raising awareness that a vote is taking place, but are nowhere near as immediate as the call to action that the homepage can provide when someone is already online.

Five Live Greatest Team of All Time promo on the BBC homepage today

The afternoon homepage schedule was then interrupted with the breaking news of the death of George Best.

The death of George Best featured on the BBC homepage

Tonight's BBC One television schedule has also been altered to include an hour long tribute to him, but the decision provoked a mixed reaction when announced on the BBC's Points Of View message board.

"er... what I really need to know is which channels will NOT be showing any tribute?"

"I wonder how long that's been in the can for..."

"Yaaaawn!"

"least its before eastenders :-)"

Well, I don't mind an obituary, but to do it on the same day suggests that the BBC have had this done and dusted for days, maybe weeks? Bad taste in my book. Was the Queen Mother's done so quickly, or Pope John Paul II?

It is quite a contrast to the reaction on the board when Ronnie Barker died in early October. Then the BBC was criticised for the unscheduled tribute not being in prime-time.

It does seem to me to be a tricky dilemma for the schedulers - put a tribute on too hastily and it looks crass, put it on too leisurely and it looks disrespectful, and wherever you schedule it people will be annoyed that their planned evening's programming has been disrupted. In fact after the death of Ronnie Barker I think it was summed up by one poster on Points of View very succinctly:

Ah yes...the customary "BBC-fails-to-pay-proper-tribute-to-deceased-national-institution-thread".

Where would we be without it?

The breaking news promo also meant that this beautiful all picture treatment for the Today programme's winter photography competition didn't get as much screen-time as intended, which was a real shame.

Today winter photo competition featured on the BBC homepage

Some people find it a bit odd that Today, a radio programme, keeps doing these very visually led features like a painting vote, or a photography competition. Personally I think it is nice to see that the programme editorial team are taking into account so much more the possibilities that their new media presence gives them, allowing them to use picture galleries on the web site as a key component in their radio editorial propositions.

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