Last evening I watched, as I often do, the BBC six o’clock news. The lead story was from Wales. The bulletin was presented, as many BBC programmes are these days, by someone with a strong Welsh accent – Huw Edwards. Why broadcasters seem to think that strong, and in some cases very strong, regional accents are acceptable on TV I don’t know. Helen was watching a show about hotels the other evening, and I could barely understand one word of a voiceover from a bloke with an unbelievably strong Lancashire accent. But that’s another story. This blog is not about that.
It’s about this phrase that we hear all the time now, ‘this report does contain some flash photography’. Last night on ‘the six’ this phrase was mentioned by Huw Edwards three times in the first twelve minutes of the bulletin, three times!
Why do they do this? Well it’s not the BBC to blame; it’s a requirement of Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator. The purpose is to alert epileptics, who are affected by this sort of thing, that they may be in danger of having a fit if they continue to watch.
The condition know as ‘photo-sensitive epilepsy’ is a form of epilepsy that affects about 5% of epileptics, and is triggered by fast flickering, like flash photography. So how many people are affected by this? Only about 2,300 people in the whole of the UK suffer from this condition. You would think that sufferers would already know that flash photography could trigger a reaction, and that they should avoid TV news programmes. In fact, I’m sure they are aware of that, and that they would expect flash photography to occur during news broadcasting.
Why then is it necessary to mention this three times in twelve minutes? I don’t think it is. Surely it would be enough to say at the start of a news bulletin that the following programme will contain flash photography, that’s enough isn’t it?
Even better send a letter to the 2,300 sufferers in the UK warning them that watching TV news programmes for them is now a good idea, and stop saying so on TV. Even better would be to just tell them all to read this blog post, so they know. The BBC must say this millions of times a year now. I don’t recall Sky news doing this as often? Perhaps they do.
So Ofcom, think again, it’s not necessary, or even if it is, it wouldn’t be if you follow the actions mentioned above.
Time for you to start thinking about more important aspects of broadcasting and sack the person who thought it a good idea to give Jeremy Kyle a TV show.