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Ruth Rogers
BBC Radio 4
The Radio 4 Blog

Editor's note: Radio 4's network manager explains three recent on-air errors - SB

Radio 4 broadcasts 13,000 programmes a year - a hugely complex mix of human activity and technology which, most of the time, comes out of the speaker in a seamless stream of beautifully crafted radio. Which makes it all the more noticeable for listeners - and frustrating for us - when there's a glitch. This week we've had a couple of glitches. On Saturday, we broadcast the previous week's edition of the Now Show instead of repeating the one from the night before.

This earned us some inevitable headlines about the 'Now and Then Show'. And yesterday morning we read out the wrong Shipping Forecast at 0520, for the second time in a month. These lapses are entirely unrelated to each other: the wrong Now Show was due to an error in operating the digital system that plays out programmes; the wrong shipping forecast was due to the forecaster selecting, at the end of a night shift, an earlier bulletin. We take these things very seriously and after any error we study what went wrong to see what lessons can be learned.

In the case of the shipping forecast, we are already implementing changes that should make such a mistake far less likely in future. The system has been adjusted so that the previous bulletins will be automatically deleted. And instead of the 0520 bulletin being read as the last task of the night shift, it will be the first task of the day shift. I can't promise that we won't make any mistakes in future. But we shouldn't make these ones again.

Denis Nowlan is Network Manager at BBC Radio 4

  • Listen to the correct edition of The Now Show on the Radio 4 web site.
  • The picture shows the control desk in the Radio 4 continuity studio. More pictures from the studio here.

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  • Comment number 8. Posted by lucas42

    on 23 Mar 2010 14:13

    #7:
    Thanks, I'll use full URLs in future. It would be nice if it mentioned somewhere that relative links won't work, seeing as they work fine in the preview.
    Though I don't see why relative links should put any stress on DNS, seeing as there's no domain. Or does the site blindly prefix "http://" to every url without it?

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  • Comment number 7. Posted by TV Licence fee payer against BBC censorship

    on 23 Mar 2010 10:10

    Re #6:

    Lucas42, relative links won't work, they need to be full URLs.

    Thus a link to the Now Show needs to be;

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qgt7 - NOT (second URL intentionally disabled...)

    The way you formatted your URLs will have been causing DNS server stress (failed look-ups and further failed requests through-out the DNS system) or the possible direction way from the BBC should any ISP use 'intelligent look-up' matching to any similar domains - and considering that both programmes.com and programmes.co.uk are actual domains...

    Hope that helps?

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  • Comment number 6. Posted by lucas42

    on 22 Mar 2010 22:50

    That's odd - I tried them all and they all worked fine for me. Isn't the Now Show's pages situated at /programmes/b006qgt7 ?
    Boilerplated, when you say broken, did they just lead to a BBC 404 page, or somewhere entirely different?

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  • Comment number 5. Posted by TV Licence fee payer against BBC censorship

    on 22 Mar 2010 08:45

    Re comment four:

    Lucus42, looked to me as though the links were broken, not "unsuitable"...

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  • Comment number 4. Posted by lucas42

    on 22 Mar 2010 04:43

    Sorry about all those links - turns out the Radio 4 schedule and the Now Show's webpages are "unsuitable"!

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  • Comment number 3. Posted by lucas42

    on 21 Mar 2010 11:35

    I'm glad to see that you've updated the schedule [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] to match what actually happened rather than what was meant to happen.
    Though, whilst having a look at the Now Show section of the site, [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] I was puzzled to find that the Radio 7 repeat of the Now Show [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] is marked as a different episode than the original one on Radio 4. [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] This seems to be confusing parts of the navigation and also labelling episodes which are available on iPlayer as unavailable.

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  • Comment number 2. Posted by lucas42

    on 21 Mar 2010 05:37

    This comment was removed because it broke the house rules. Explain

  • Comment number 1. Posted by Kenneth

    on 17 Mar 2010 19:10

    The BBC has a long tradition of left wing comedy but The Now Show is just a boring lecture.

    At least Ben Elton was funny when he used attacked the Conservatives on the BBC.

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