Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Rob vs the BBC - Episode 3

Previously on "Rob vs the BBC"...

Rob stands against a raindrenched street, silhouetted in the sodium glare of the streetlamps. He looks very sexy and cool, like Angel - the vampire with a soul, only with a better face. 

ROB:     Hey, the BBC! Stop sticking bloody great 'coming next' stickers over programmes I'm watching!

Cut to The BBC, standing on top of a car, pissing all over the place.

THE BBC:   No, we can't. People think they're ace. Don't they everyone?

A crowd of people huddle, wretched and cold outside a fish and chip shop. Occasionally the BBC's piss splashes in their faces.

CROWD: (mumbling)   Not really. They're quite annoying.

The BBC spins round, eyes blazing with cold fury. It reaches into its jacket and pulls out a huge machine rifle.

THE BBC:  What was that you bastards?

CROWD: We mean they're very helpful for telling us what time things are on. Without them we would never, ever know what to watch.

Even as they are saying this, one of the crowd - a gentle orphan child - turns to look at Rob. Her tearful face seems to say 'Will you help us against this evil man?'

Rob rises up to his full, impressive height. His handsome face burns with steely determination.

ROB: That's enough!


Rob and the BBC are locked in deadly combat on the roof of a burning building. Their swords clash, sending sparks into the night sky. 

ROB: No-one likes those On-Screen announcements, you liar! They're an annoying intrusion and they spoil programmes!

THE BBC: I don't care! I'm going to keep on doing it anyway! Ha ha ha ha!

The roof explodes around the two duellists, leaving them perched precariously on the edge of a terrifying drop. Rob presses in, smashing the BBC's sword from its hand. The sword tumbles to the ground below, where the crowd from earlier watch, thinking how cool Rob is and what a prick the BBC is being.

The BBC looks at Rob, grinning manically even though all is surely lost.

THE BBC: You can't win, Rob. Whatever you say, we're just going to keep slapping intrusive, annoying labels over the end of programme. Maybe we'll even start doing it... on BBC1!

ROB: I loved you so much! You know that! I LOVED YOU SO MUCH!

And Rob leaps at the BBC, and they fall, into the flaming inferno below...

Anyway, that's pretty much what happened. If you want the full details you can read the actual correspondence here and here. And once you've read them, I'm sure you'll agree that a) I'm a genius and b) I'm fully justified in my next letter to them, which you can read below.

Dear Mr Kettle

Thank you for your detailed and personal reply to my complaint about In Programme Pointers. As you'll remember, I consider them worthless acts of cultural vandalism and took great pains to point out why. You, in return, sought to justify their existence and tell me that you had no plans to change things anytime soon. I hope you'll understand if I press the matter a little further, believing as I do that your reply does not really nail the essence of my complaint.

First off, I note that you are 'continually conducting research' into my area of concern. Well, you'll see in my last letter that I was fairly specific in asking for details of this research, and yet you still haven't given me any. Your previous letter stated that your IPPs are 'much appreciated by our audience', and I'd said I didn't believe that in the slightest, and asked you for details. In fact, I pretty much accused you of being disingenuous with this data, and challenged you to prove me wrong. So come on. Either give me some data to back up these claims or stop using them as evidence in your argument.

Next up: your second paragraph is all about how not everyone uses newspapers, the internet etc. and so you have to let them know what is on next. I note you completely ignore my point that, as we all go digital, we all have Electronic Programme Guides telling us what is on next, at the touch of a button. You work in the industry, so tell me: by the end of 2012, won't everybody have switched over to digital television? And won't they all therefore have access to EPGs?

And even if they don't, why are you prioritising them - people who can't be bothered to look at one of the millions of TV guides available  - over me - someone who has worked out what he wants to watch, and is trying to watch it? Why is your desire to let people know when things are on greater than your desire to let them watch the programme uninterrupted?

What I would like is some sense that you are taking this complaint seriously. That you genuinely do have the interests of your audience at heart. At the moment you are coming over as someone employed to justify decisions that have already been made. Your reply is a well executed set of evasions and rhetoric, and one only has to look at the language you are using to see an underlying contempt for my point of view and a lack of interest in providing a meaningful response.

For instance: If you want me to feel like you are listening, don't say 'we're sorry if that's how you perceive it'. I don't just perceive IPPs as intrusive - they absolutely, definitively, provably are intrusive. They intrude on the screen, on the action, on the drama. You are trying to shift the focus here onto my reaction to the IPPs, rather than taking responsibility for their existence in the first place. This is not how professionals like yourself should be writing - it is how squabbling couples try to score points off one another: "I'm sorry you feel that way." Don't do it.

If you are reading this letter, Mr Kettle, it means you have followed the link from the much shortened version I have submitted on your website, so thank you. I have submitted that shorter version because you asked me to in your letter. I don't mind doing it, but your insistence that I do so raises a question. Why was this recommendation not given in your first reply? Was my first letter even read, beyond a cursory glance to see what it was vaguely about? You've ignored an awful lot of the points I raised there, so I am wondering if you read it in the first place.

I would like you to consider my complaint more seriously than you have done so far. I want access to the data which you say justifies the inclusion of IPPs. I want a response which addresses the specific issues which I have brought up, especially the factoring in of EPGs. Most of all I want to see a reaction which suggests you have the slightest interest in any opinion other than that of your marketing department.