Thompson defends BBC's Diamond Jubilee coverage

BBC boss Mark Thompson insisted he was proud of the corporation’s Diamond Jubilee coverage despite it receiving more than 2,000 complaints from the public.

It drew stinging criticism during the river pageant broadcast, with viewers attacking its “inane” commentary, camera angles and sound quality.

The corporation also came under fire for its coverage of Tuesday’s events, with one section where Fearne Cotton and Paloma Faith discussed a Jubilee-themed sickbag being singled out for criticism.

But audience figures were high and director general Thompson told staff 68.5 per cent of the public had watched the coverage at some point – which he described as “a stunning figure”.

An average audience of 10.3 million people watching the pageant broadcast.

The audience for the Diamond Jubilee Concert peaked at 17 million, making it the most-watched programme of the year, and Tuesday’s carriage procession was seen by a peak of 7.4 million.

In an email to staff, he wrote: “Our output has been impressive not only in its scale, but in its ambition, quality and outstanding journalism.

“By capturing the spectacle of the Thames pageant and yesterday’s ceremonies alongside smaller local celebrations, we reflected reaction from up and down the country.”

A BBC spokesman said it had received 2,425 complaints about the coverage while a former executive said it “tried too hard” to make its coverage of the river pageant “informal” and “inclusive”.

Former Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer told the Today programme the BBC was “worried and nervous” about appearing too formal.

He said: “I don’t think this is going to be the BBC’s Bafta award-winning entry next year but all that went wrong was a very conscious attempt, I think, to make the whole event informal and, to use the modern idiom, inclusive and warm, and the BBC just probably tried too hard to do it.”

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