In response to viewer and listener feedback received during the recently-finished football season, the BBC has decided that pundits and newscasters on all BBC media properties will be forbidden from mentioning specific details of league matches until it has been determined that everyone interested in watching or listening to the live commentary has had a chance to do so.
Barraged by complaints from viewers stuck at work or with family while crucial matches were broadcast, the Director General felt obliged to respond and address the issue. “Obviously, it’s been unfair of us to discuss major events and turnarounds in football matches – final score, goalscorers, red cards and the like – when there are still loyal fans who’ve yet to watch or listen to the game via timeshifted media. Why should they be denied the chance to enjoy our football-related programming just because there’s a chance the element of surprise might be removed from their enjoyment of their home team’s performance?”
Asked how the BBC intended to deal with the possibility of other media outlets leaking the same details while some fans remained unfulfilled, the Director General replied: “We’re planning to set up a dialogue with other venues to establish a sort of universal code of practice. It is to be hoped that rogue venues will not breach the code and race to broadcast the full detail of a match in their discussion of it; it would be very callous of them not to consider the possibility of a fan accidentally clicking through to a discussion of a game they had yet to watch. After all, it’s not the fan’s responsibility to avoid every venue where discussion might occur; that onus lies clearly on the media and the punditry, and it’s to the shame of this industry that we’ve let this run unchecked for so long.”
Faced with the suggestion that such a code of conduct would be unpolicable and tantamount to a form of censorship, the Director General asserted that it is clearly the duty of the media to forestall discussion until a point where everyone can participate in it equally. “It’s just the right thing to do, isn’t it? After all, if we told them they’d be better off avoiding football-related media until they’ve had a chance to catch up, we’d be being monstrously unfair to that minority of people. They should be able to read, listen to or watch whatever they want without fear of finding out something they’d rather not know yet, and we have to consider that desire – born as it is of a form of deferred gratification – to be more important than the inconsiderate lust for discussion of everyone else. That lust has led to pundits taking an almost sadistic glee in discussing the particulars of certain matches, especially the most important or contentious ones, and – to be frank – the sooner we quash this unpleasant thread of elitism, the better off everyone will be.”
When pressed, the DG suggested that the same protocols will eventually be rolled out into all sports programming, and finally all news content in general. But wouldn’t this mean that eventually the BBC would be completely unable to discuss anything that had happened at all, ever? “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, I suppose,” responded the Director General. “But I’m positive that those to whom we extend the privilege of forestalling the discussion will be grateful for not having to think about what they read or watch, and that is reward enough for everyone, I’d have thought.”
For more background on this story, click here. Unless you’re worried that clicking there might reveal an important component of the events in question that will spoil your enjoyment of the discussion as a whole, of course; after all, you shouldn’t have to make that judgement call yourself.