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back to article BBC labels child 'recovering alcoholic' in tech slip-up

A glitch on BBC News that accidentally labelled a child as a recovering alcoholic is a symptom of endemic problems with the Salford Media City's software, The Reg has been told by a BEEB insider, though BBC dismisses the mistake as a "teething problem". A captioning slip-up caused the image below to be broadcast on BBC News …

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One hopes

they at least got the poor kid's name wrong, too...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: One hopes

You'd think but, alas, no.

Also, the notion that this was a "computer/software issue" have to be taken with a HUGE pinch of salt: The software doesn't make up the subject name nor the by-line caption: a BBC production person has to input that information (the fact that the producer/director is unable to stop/alter the caption immediately prior or during live transmission is clearly an urgent one, along with don't they pre-/re-view these items anymore, prior to tranmission?)

My "guess", here, is that someone entered that detail, on the basis that it was kind of funny and, as the kid looked like to that person she'd been "on the sauce"... and...

Upshot, I find it VERY difficult to believe that it was an "accident", especially given that there were no other news reports carried on BBC NW Tonight about alcoholics nor alcoholism during that broadcast...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: One hopes

I tend to agree with AC, this sort of thing is why you must always act professionally at work, even when you don't think it matters. There are countless people who've sent emails to their boss starting "Dr Mr Wanker", with the intention of removing it before ending the mail, then forgetting. There are many documents that accidentally get sent to problem customers saying exactly what people think of them and countless examples of Doctors having to explain to patients why they wrote "NFN" or "TSBUNDY" on their medical records.

It's all very funny at the time, but rather less so when you reap the consequences.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: One hopes

yes there was... the royal visit also included a trip to a dry bar, to meet recovering drug/alcohol addicts.

I find it very difficult to believe you know what you are talking about and are just spreading something that smells funny in a anti-BBC moment.

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Anonymous Coward

Shit, in this day and age the kid _could_ be a recovering Alci. We've all seen kids, many I guess not even in their teens, hanging around the local rec drinking Lambrini or whatever.

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Anonymous Coward

You must have led a very sheltered life if you think that's anything new.

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Trollface

NFN

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Anonymous Coward

So after years upon years of companies blaming "computer error" every time something goes amiss they are now blaming the actual people again.

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Hmm

If you think this is bad you should see the blunders that are regularly made on South East Today.

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Thumb Up

Re: Hmm

BBC Midlands Today also often seem to get the YTS kids in.

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Anonymous Coward

Daily Mail Style Headline

Look alcohol is so cheap the under 5s are now are now recovering alcoholics.

In the Mail On Sunday............

Smack heads aged 5 in Salford mug rugby team of mobile phones and wallets.

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Pirate

User error or maliciousness.

That there was an 'insider' so willing to spill the beans is very telling. The move to Salford has never been popular and I'm sure that certain individuals will attempt any headline grabbing act to justify their beliefs.

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Re: User error or maliciousness.

It is a bit of an upheaval when your employer relocates. Especially is you are too overpaid to contemplate leaving.

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Silver badge
Devil

Mistake?

She looks pretty pissed-up to me.

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Anonymous Coward

Amateurs!

Amateurs!

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Anonymous Coward

Technically, since recovered alcohlics don't drink, she may well be one and not know it.

that's assuming she had some gripewater as a babby and then turnes out to be allergic to alcohol in later life.

Signed

an Anonymous Alcoholic

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Anonymous Coward

Normal service...

I don't know which work experience kid the BBC have controlling this system, but pretty much daily I see a spelling or grammar howler tick across the bottom of the screen.

Which is quite something given my atrocious spelling and grammar.

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Silver badge
Happy

Still not my fave news slip-up....

During the 1983 US "invasion" of the Carribean island of Grenada, the Russian TV news ran a vitriolic piece, whilst a map in the background had an angry arrow pointing at Grenada in Spain....

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Granada

not Grenada (the one in Spain, that is)

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FAIL

Where's London

There was a pretty good one only this month: ask CNN where London is.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/9058348/CNN-sorry-over-graphic-blunder-that-uprooted-London-to-Norfolk.html

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Silver badge

Typical BBC these days

You should try reading the news ticker on the ridiculous 60s News they broadcast on BBC3. It is always full of spelling and gramatical errors, often you can't even tell what they were trying to say.

The presenters aren't much better at speaking either. You'd think the basic requirement for a news presenter would be the ability to read the autocue and talk clearly without tripping up over your words or saying the wrong ones. But not on BBC3!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Typical BBC these days

To be fair - it's aimed at a BBC3 audience

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Headmaster

Re: Typical BBC these days

"It is always full of spelling and gramatical error"

Not only the BBC it seems. I revoke your grammar nazi badge first class

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Bronze badge

BBC News 24 has been rather goofy for ages, occasionally.

I don't know if an editor can take a caption off screen when it's part of the tape - a big button to superimpose a plain BBC banner would do at least - or they could just stop the blessed thing playing. Otherwise it's "Russell Howard's Good News" next stop.

Wikipedia: "In 1982 darts player Jocky Wilson's picture was displayed on Top of the Pops during a performance of "Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)" by Dexys Midnight Runners, apparently an in-joke on the part of the production staff." I thought it was supposed to be a simple, quite large mistake. I think the BBC had already had novelty records like Jasper Carrott's "Magic Roundabout" (or not, probably not allowed) and they assumed this was another one.

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Thumb Up

Re: BBC News 24 has been rather goofy for ages, occasionally.

On the the subject of TOTP's infamous "Jockey Wilson Said", whilst watching the re-runs of the 1977 episodes the other day I noticed in the chart run-down that the picture for the band Rose Royce had a very Life On Mars brown Ford Cortina Mk3 driving through a car wash!

Think about RR's big hit around that time...

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Bronze badge
FAIL

New entry in the BBC lexicon

Never mind the 'red lorry, yellow lorry' nonsense - just remember to say 'teething troubles' when you really mean 'bone-headed design flaws in half-tested systems that were signed off by the people who wouldn't have to use them'. But 'teething troubles' sounds so much snappier, doesn't it?

Having had some very modest exposure to live entertainment in the distant past, I can't ofhand think of ANY producer / director / stage manager who wouldn't go absolutely apeshit at not being able to control what went out right up until the last minute.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: New entry in the BBC lexicon

Having been involved in the move of a 24-hour news broadcaster, I can assure you it's more complicated, and with more room for error, than plugging in the lighting board at your local Am Dram society.

We had a near miss on needlessly plunging the nation into mourning

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Pint

Admitting you have a problem is the first step.

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FAIL

These gaffes are endemic on BBC News. Typically the caption gets stuck and is used for more than one photo/video loop. Of course, the highly-paid-autocue-readers (which some refer to as "newscasters") never apologise for these gaffes, but look suitably embarrassed if a particularly bad one occurs.

See https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!topic/uk.tech.broadcast/E-fvu8CSWGA

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Silver badge

Having been in the ITV news room (many years ago) where Trevor McDonut was reading the news, they are highly paid for a reason. I couldn't believe how fast he could change the next item without missing a beat, whilst some manic producer was jabbering in his ears. It's just NOT as simple as reading an autocue.

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Anonymous Coward

That Trevor McDonut was more talented than most. I remember he used to go off scrren then reappear as David Bellamy!

There was only one Houdi-Elbow though.

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Anonymous Coward

"are in the process of being fixed"

You mean "not fixed", "still broken", "current problem".

My car at the garage my be "in the process of being fixed" - to me, that means I'm not driving it due to the fault - as far as the end user is concerned it's not working.

Management spin rather than an acknowledgement of the issues.

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Anonymous Coward

Not surprised the software won't communicate

I got an offer to work on some broadcast software a few years ago. So I read the specification, and it was retarded.

It was plainly written by broadcast people with no software experience. Rather than just stating what they wanted in plain English and getting someone competent to define the software interfaces, they'd attempted to define everything and it was a mass of contradictions and foolishness. Software written to the "specification" had no hope of reliably communicating with anything else.

So I turned down the job. Working on things that are doomed to fail is soul destroying.

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Bronze badge
Windows

Re: Not surprised the software won't communicate

No plug intended - I'm just researching for my boss...

...But if you look at Blackmagicdesign's ATEM's stuff (video switcher), and have a squint at the manual*, that's absolutely one of the best, clearest user manuals for a (very) complex bit of kit I've EVER seen in my life! I've gotta learn this for the new (temp.) job....

* http://www.blackmagic-design.com/support/detail/?os=win&sid=3962&pid=3971&leg=false

ATEM Switchers Operation Manual

Dunno how anyone could, with a few hours practice, screw it up!

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Paris Hilton

Re: Re: Not surprised the software won't communicate

An Operation Manual is quite different from a Software Spec, no?

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Bronze badge
Windows

Re: Re: Re: Not surprised the software won't communicate

You're absolutely right. I was trying to illustrate that, if the level of documentation's that thorough, then I guess their engineering processes are written by a similar pen.

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Anonymous Coward

To be fair, if she is a child from Salford she could well be a recovering alcoholic

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Windows

Someone hit the wrong DSK button (DownStream Key) button on the video switcher.

(It's what puts the caption at the bottom of the screen). Don't think deliberate, but I think this one was..

http://www.snopes.com/katrina/graphics/skybush.jpg

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Facepalm

Gordon Burns

Wouldn't stand for this shit

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The Salford operation uses a piece of kit called Mosart which is a lot more automated than the systems they had at Oxford Road. So I think it's quite plausible that if somebody has screwed up and put the wrong caption reference into the running order that getting it off the screen quickly will be awkward to do.

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Pixelation

Why have the Reg pixelated the kids face?

If it was shown on BBC news, then isn't it ok to show here?

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Headmaster

Software programs

"Lots of different software firms have produced software [programs] that won't ..."

Yes, we DO know what software is.

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