BBC will remove analogue clock from homepage

Screen grab of BBC homepage The analogue clock will be removed rather than get changed

The BBC is going to remove the analogue-style clock that features prominently on the homepage after a complaint is upheld by the BBC Trust.

The decision to remove the clock follows a complaint from a member of the public, who said it merely reproduces the time stored on a computer's internal system, whether this is accurate or not.

He added that there is no labelling which makes clear the clock isn't independently verified and, indeed, may not be 'factually accurate'.

The Trust ruled that the clock breaches accuracy guidelines, but that the BBC had not 'knowingly and materially' misled website users.

Following the Trust's decision to uphold the complaint, the BBC will remove the clock because changing it would be overly complex.

'The BBC takes accuracy very seriously,' read a statement. 'Given the technical complexities of implementing an alternative central clock, and the fact that most users already have a clock on their computer screen, the BBC has taken the decision to remove the clock from the Homepage in an upcoming update.'

It's unclear when the update will happen.

Undermines trust

In report filed by the Editorial Standards Committee on Tuesday, the complainant argued that the BBC and its website depended on an assumption that all its content was factually accurate.

And that the discovery by himself and other users that the clock was not necessarily correct 'undermined their trust in the BBC overall'.

The Trust agreed that 'in the absence of clear labelling to the contrary, users of the website would assume that a clock provided by the BBC on its homepage would reflect as accurately as possible, bearing in mind the technological constraints of delivering data across the internet, the right time in the UK'.

The complainant believed that the clock should either be configured in such a way as to ensure the time was correct or removed from the site.

The BBC had countered this, saying that there was a 'high level of perceived user satisfaction with the clock and an absence of complaints'.

100 days

The corporation also added that it would take around '100 staffing days to make the changes involved in switching to an independent clock'.

The Trust, though, concluded that the situation should be remedied 'within a reasonable time frame' so that the BBC complied with its requirement to ensure due accuracy in all its output.

The complaint was first made last May to Audience Services and was escalated to the Trust after several exchanges in correspondence.


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