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I watched the BBC’s televised live coverage of the 6-Nations England versus Scotland Rugby International at Twickenham yesterday.  As a result, I have sent a formal complaint to the BBC, protesting about the camerawork.  Here is my complaint.

To:  BBC Complaints Dept.

I watched the televised England versus Scotland 6-Nations Rugby International at Twickenham yesterday. Well, I say ‘watched’. I was more bemused by the constant switching of camera angles, close ups, zoom backs, aerial sweeps, people in the crowd shots, players sitting out shots, side-line shots, referee wrist shots, head coach in booth shots, all compounded by constant replays (again from different angles and sometimes in slow motion) and the distracting display of on-screen useless statistics. All I want to do is watch the game! I estimated that the camera angle was changing every 5 to 10 seconds and the constant insertion of replays just served to add to the confusion. If I glanced away for even a second, when I returned to the screen I often didn’t realise that I was now watching a replay.

Please, I urge you to rethink your camerawork techniques. You have created a dizzying kaleidoscope effect more suited for watching tropical fish in an aquarium than a rugby match. I enjoyed the fact that England won but I did not enjoy watching the match.


Postscript 1

18 March, 2015

I did receive a reply from the BBC. Here’s an edited version of the reply along with my further comments, some of which I have sent to the BBC.

From time to time we aim to experiment with new formats and try out new technologies and production techniques.

I understand but why try new formats on a major international rugby match watched by millions? Why not pick something less popular?

Similarly, why change the view so rapidly? I timed some of the shot changes last week and at times it was less than 5 seconds. That’s too quick and as I said, the constant insertion of replays only adds to the confusion. On that subject, I would respectfully suggest that a replay is clearly marked as such with a big REPLAY caption in one corner of the screen. Termination with the swirly rugby ball would then serve a useful delimiter purpose.

When pundits are talking about the match, it’s also important to reshow a moment to give illustration to what they are talking about.

To be honest, I rarely pay attention to what the commentators are saying. If I do, I find that either they are telling me something I already know because I too saw it happen or they are commenting for the sake of commenting and imparting very little of interest. A commentator is compelled to commentate and thus feels the need to fill the airwaves with comments that I neither need to know nor want to know.

In the good old days, there used to be just one commentator. Now there are three, each vying for commenting time. Usually, I turn the sound down. And I never listen to any of the four talking heads during the half-time break. That’s definitely cuppa-tea-making time!

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

Thanks for your reply. I appreciate it. As a final word, it does seem to me that televising sporting events such as an international rugby match has become a statement of how clever a producer (or whoever has the responsibility to choose which camera and which angle to show) can be at switching views rather than something that is being televised for the benefit of the viewer – a dazzling symphony of camerawork artistry and keyboard dexterity but to the detriment of the viewer’s enjoyment. Many of the close-ups are unnecessary and deprive the viewer of the bigger picture and I would definitely do away with the Skycam shots. They add nothing that isn’t already available in the long-distance views of the pitch and player placements thereon. Televising major sporting events has become a victim of feature creep IMHO. The BBC could spearhead a ‘back to basics’ revolution! I am sure if you do this, the majority of your viewers would thank you.


Postscript 2

8 April, 2015

I received a second reply:

Thank you for your further feedback regarding the BBC coverage of the ‘Six Nations’.  I understand you’re unhappy with a number of changes to the production of the event and how the matches are formatted.  I appreciate this and I am grateful you have taken the time to share your views.  The editor of rugby at BBC Sport has seen your complaints and will be able to take your suggestions on board in future events.  Thanks again for getting in touch.

We’ll see …