The BBC Radio 3 PR machine jumps into top gear today to spin the 'success' of their Bach Christmas.
A press release claims a 'runaway success'. But conveniently audience figures will never be available to prove this, as they are not measured over Christmas. Instead the BBC claims are based on 'a record number' of web site hits in December. The claimed figure is '3.1m impressions during the season itself', although there is no explanation of what 'the season' is, or how this figure compares with previous 'seasons'.
I have two problems with these claims, quite apart from the fact that there is no proven link between the web site hits and radio audience size. First, in the past the BBC's claims about internet traffic have not been fully supported. Information leaked from inside the BBC last year indicated that the results from drilling down into the data on the much-trumpeted 1.4 million Beethoven MP3 files may not have spun anywhere like as well as the top-line story.
And my second problem is with the BBC Radio 3 controller Roger Wright's statement that 'more than 90%' of the 2000 email received about the Bach Christmas were 'positive'.
What exactly is a positive email?
After three days of the broadcasts I sent the BBC a negative email, and wrote about it here. I received the following reply (my highlighting):
From: Bach Christmas [Bach@bbc.co.uk]Sent: 01 January 2006 11:03To: Bach ChristmasSubject: A BACH CHRISTMAS
Thank you for taking the time and trouble to write to us regarding A Bach Christmas. We are completely overwhelmed by the response to it and are delighted by how much you enjoyed the experience.
I hope you continue to enjoy Radio 3 in 2006.
With renewed thanks Best wishes
Roger Wright Controller, BBC Radio 3
I must assume the BBC counted my email (and how many others?) as one of the 'more than 90%' of the messages that were 'positive'. How sound are their other statistics?
Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk
Picture credit - Steve Lieber, do visit his site for his caricatures of John Cage and Duke Ellington
Image owners - if you do not want your picture used in this article please contact me and it will be removed. If bandwidth is a problem with your permission I will host your image.
If you enjoyed this post take An Overgrown Path to The miracle of music