While England Sleeps….

15 Apr

The last BBC world news bulletin podcast via iTunes dates from 11 April at 1500 GMT. I know the legendary British Broadcasting Company has not suddenly gone to ‘dead air’ in its flagship top-of-the-hour world news summary because I can still hear it on satellite and shortwave.

So what gives? This is a classic illustration of the growing pains of modern media. I imagine – and this is a guess, not a reported answer from Broadcasting House (the BBC’s London HQ) – that no one (not a computer script, not an engineer) is watching the iTunes feed. So a broken feed process doesn’t get the attention that a destroyed relay antenna on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean would. Likely there is not the budget to support such quality control for their online efforts. And besides, because online is a downstream ‘redistributed’ product, and not the ‘real thing,’ it probably can’t command the same prioritization.

If that is what’s going on here, that’s a problem. In the current era, dead air online is as serious (or more so) as dead air in the shortwave spectrum. You get no grace, and you lose credibility if you are dark now for more than 96 hours.

I am thinking about these support and infrastructure issues a lot these days as our CS and MIS/IT/Operations groups work hard to deliver 6 9’s reliability for our operating networks and for our applications. I know it isn’t easy. And not a single one of our hundreds of staffers or thousands of sales and technical reps around the world is trying to do anything other than their best.

That said, the BBC’s five-minute or so update is the news industry’s gold standard. For years, and for millions of people around the world (especially during the decades of the Cold War or in countries with little press freedom) those top-of-the-hour broadcasts have long been a ‘single source’ of credible news reporting and invaluable.

Maybe there is something wrong with my machine (although I have checked several times, unsubscribed from the feed, resubscribed, and I still get the most recent broadcast from midafternoon London time on April 11). So I am guessing it’s not a problem on a local machine, or at iTunes.

We will see how long it takes the ‘Beeb’ to restart the feed.

Update: April 27, 1200 GMT update is working. Great!

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2 Responses to “While England Sleeps….”

  1. angelatc April 25, 2007 at 3:09 pm #

    Ironically, I could write essay about the condition of my DSL service, or rather the lack of it, titled “While Earthlink Sleeps.”

    If your customer service people really are doing their best, it’s nothing to be bragging about.

  2. craigforman April 25, 2007 at 9:41 pm #

    Sorry to hear that! Despite our best efforts, sometimes things don’t go as they should. We will try to email you offline to find out more and help you resolve your issue (and to share your feedback internally to help make our process better).

    And, while this really is my blog and I really do write it (and read the comments), your questions about our customer support for EarthLink will get the quickest interaction if you email me at forman.support@corp.earthlink.net

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