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Sunday, 19 June 2011

BBC kills Haleh Sahabi again

Drinking my coffee and reading the BBC news on digital teletext this morning (does life get any more exciting than that?), I was startled to see that Haleh Sahabi had died. Ms Sahabi died some weeks ago and I blogged about it nearer the time; someone in the BBC's teletext factory clearly today pressed the wrong button and put the story up again as if it was a new one - it's now gone. I used to work in a teletext factory myself (an experience that later enabled me to be possibly the only person ever to make a speech at a Lib Dem party conference about access to teletext for people with disabilities - some of the audience are still snoring now), so I know how easy it is for these mistakes to occur.

Someone once wrote "Some old waffle here" on a page that was due to be updated by a colleague before it went to air, and, of course, she put it out on the nation's TV screens still saying precisely those words - "Some old waffle here". On another occasion, one teletext service managed to put up the wrong lottery numbers, potentially leading some people to think that they had won millions, when, actually, they hadn't. 

Best of all (or worst of all) was the occasion on which, after the tragic death of Princess Diana, someone at one teletext service was doing the weekly update of the page for a well-known morning television programme. He cut and pasted the new content over the old, inadvertently leaving the last paragraph of the previous week's text in place. So the earlier paragraphs were about the coming week's sombre coverage of events following the death of Diana, while the last paragraph read: "So don't just sit there - lie back and wallow in it!"

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