Hapless BBC bumps Proms for Olympic Games

Hapless BBC bumps Proms for Olympic Games


norman lebrecht

July 30, 2021

The BBC is under pressure for reducing its coverage of the Olympics Games from 5,000 hours in 2016 to just 650 this summer.

The Corporation says it lacked the cash to bid for more.

Responding to justified popular criticism, however, it has managed to find some extra Olympics hours tonight.

The BBC Proms open at 8pm.

They will be given just one hour on a mainstream channel, BBC2, before being shunted off into the remotness of BBC4, a channel which is now designated chiefly for repeats.

The BBC has put the Proms a very distant second to the sports it cannot afford.



  • Michael says:

    As with nearly all BBCTV coverage of the Proms, they can’t even broadcast the First Night live! It starts at 7:30 but is sent out on tape-delay at 8, with the second part at 9, also on tape-delay. I assume this means BBCTV can’t be bothered or don’t have the trained staff to prepare relevant interval material or – those were the days! – don’t have presenters who can chat/discuss LIVE during the intervals. Also, we can’t – as many do – watch on TV and listen to the much higher quality often available on radio. Finally, the presenters usually lead viewers to assume that the TV broadcasters are actually live!

  • Chris Walsh says:

    What difference does it make which TV channel shows the coverage? Are people incapable of locating BBC4?

    Also, consider that anyone really interested in the music will be listening on the radio, where the pictures are infinitely better (and chosen by you, not some witless TV director showing off his/her technique).

    You need to step away from that pearl necklace, Norman.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      As do you. Is there a role in this day and age of the internet for a publicly-funded broadcaster? The answer has to be no, especially when there are hospitals defense and schools to be funded.

    • operacentric says:

      True, although where I live, I cannot receive BBC in HD so it is indeed a downgrade. The delayed relay meant the concert also didn’t fit in with the News. I know I can watch that on replay but it’s still an aggravation.

  • Rob says:

    “The Corporation says it lacked the cash to bid for more.”

    They’re funded by pro vaxxers the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

    (Check out who funds the BBC).

    As well as a licence fee.

    “Please Sir, can I have some more.”

  • Alexander Hall says:

    You don’t have to agree unconditionally with the self-congratulatory Humphrey Burton in his recent autobiography, but he has a very valid point when he calls attention to the BBC’s abrogation of its responsibility towards the arts and music in particular. A half-century ago there were regular documentaries and features, live concert transmissions, not to mention the Andre Previn series with the LSO. Back then management at the BBC nurtured talent in so many areas – where are the Christopher Nupens, Tony Palmers and Brian Larges of today? When Tony Hall took over as Director-General there were high hopes that he would turn things round. Instead he presided over a further decline in the importance of the arts in programming. He for one should hang his head in shame. Go to any of the public broadcasters in continental countries and you will see how musical heritage is honoured and valued in terms of regular content. The pathetic talk of great and glorious Global Britain is nothing but a empty shell. Having cut itself off from European influence and participation (the loss to young British musicians of the EUYO is especially egregious), the UK is rapidly turning itself into a cultural desert. And nobody in government cares.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      They’re a shallow lot, mostly interested in equity, diversity and inclusion. Their news broadcasts have virtually morphed into paid political announcements.

      You asked for it; you got it!!

    • Matias says:

      The BBC, stuffed full of remainers, is probably better equipped than any other organization in the UK to prevent the country becoming a ‘cultural desert’. So what has Brexit got to do with it?

      The focus is shifting away from Europe in any case.

      • Dave says:

        Well, the BBC management certainly isn’t stuffed full of remainers; the reason the first B now stands for Blukip is the number of tory placemen, oops, placepersons, in key positions, from the top down. Brexit has loads to do with it.

    • Madeleine Richardson says:

      Not even half a century ago there were interesting historical documentaries on ancient civilisations.
      Troy, Alexander the Great, all in the Nineties.
      At one time great dramatists were showcased: Shakespeare, Webster, Ibsen, Strindberg etc. The first time I saw Hugh Grant perform it was as Alsemero in the The Changeling.
      Now the BBC offers mainly noise brash and trash.

  • Corno di Caccia says:

    I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve emailed the Beeb about their pathetic Proms coverage over years and I’m tired of their equally pathetic excuses. Although when the Proms first started to be televised, they were live. The high arts and classical music are poorly served by the glorious BBC and their bosses nowadays. I also am old enough to remember Andre Previn’s Music Night – which was eventually pulled because On the Buses was knocking up higher viewing figures on an alternative channel at the time – and a regular weekly series of programmes of classical music called Diversions performed by the BBC Orchestras. Halcyon days indeed. Still, I’ll no doubt tune in to watch another season of televised Proms introduced, as per usual, by an array of glittering nobodies. Auntie Beeb remains on the naughty step, though.

  • V.Lind says:

    The BBC was wildly outbid by a paid-for streaming service, which I believe is called Discovery. BBC wanted to show free-to-air coverage, of which there is very little, and the many, many people who have complained that they have no access may have had an influence on late programming changes.

    I suspect the complaints about the Proms being moved to another BBC channel will not number as many, by a long chalk.

    I’m afraid this looks like sensible programming. No TV network can exist without an audience. The demand for this 2-week quadrennial event, already delayed by a year, would have been massive.

    The BBC exists for MORE than arts lovers. There is virtually no free-to-air coverage left of major sports events.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      That will only worsen over time as streaming services occupy the space. Didn’t see that coming!!!! The BBC is a leviathan from last century.

      • V.Lind says:

        It’s a free-to-air television network, like ITV and others. Most of us grew up with a monthly television bill and we just turned on the channels we had paid for and watched. The BBC provides some excellent drama, of which I take full advantage, and some equally good news programmes.

        Yes, they are– along with other institutions worldwide, in the western democracies at least — on the diversity/equity/inclusion bandwagon, which I regret if it is too much of a focus. But they still provide more than streaming service. I have had Netflix for years and I go months at a time without watching a single thing on it. And they provide no news or sport.

        This anti-BBC thing is getting as old as the anti-Peter Gelb. Pity Katherine Jenkins and Lang Lang have done nothing to offend lately, and Dudamel seems to have come off the naughty list. It was more interesting when the targets were more varied.

        • Iain says:

          “This anti-BBC thing”

          You mean objecting to the prosecution of over 75s for non payment of the licence fee while paying June Sarpong £267,000 for a three day week as ‘diversity champion’, in control of a £100m budget?

          Plenty to object to, that’s only the beginning. Fortunately people are starting to take notice.

          Lots of superior drama elsewhere, particularly if you don’t mind subtitles.

          As for news coverage – half of the story, all of the time.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    I think the Olympics will be vastly more interesting.

  • Steve says:

    None of it matters. Channels are meaningless in the modern age of asynchronous broadcasting. Sports are more popular than music just as inane gameshows and soaps are more popular than sports. The are bigger things to be worried and angry about than any of this.

  • Malcolm says:

    Half of olympics on BBC is talking what a waste of money

  • Paul Henry says:

    Come on! What did it take to switch to BBC4?