BBC fires UK government's Meterological Office, opens up weather prediction to global firms

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Fuck the Tories.


Those rival services will probably still use Met Office data.

Plus, the Met Office isn’t going away and will still require funding, so instead of that coming out of the BBC licence fee, it’ll have to come out of general taxation.

The Telegraph is reporting that the BBC thought the Met Office’s phone app wasn’t good enough.


Given the vast differences between the U.S. and U.K. means-of-operating their respective meteorology bureaus, it would be helpful to obtain a fuller context. The U.S. govt finances its meteo bureau & all data is public. This underpins an enormously profitable private forecast industry who’s taxes reinforce (but are not the sole benefit of) the approach.

As I understand it, the U.K. licenses their data (including satellite) and presumably charges for forecasting. So whomever else might obtain the BBC contract will be paying the Met Office for data.

So this becomes somewhat of a cautionary tale about the limits and unintended consequences of data licensing.

Two points not from the linked article, but which might be useful context:

  • An ex-BBC forecaster alleges that the Met Office was asking too much:
    presuming it unthinkable that the BBC would consider an alternative
    provider, they’ve - allegedly - been milking the relationship.

  • Michael Fish famous error was in using technical language: when he
    said a hurricane wasn’t on the way, that was literally accurate - the
    subsequent major storm didn’t meet the strict definition of 'a

One from Cory’s summary here:

“the Met having made some spectacular recent blunders in providing the weather.”

Really? Or is it fairer to say that recent weather events have been beyond the ability of anyone’s models to forecast?

And one from the linked article:

The Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen told the newspaper: “Everybody understands the BBC has to cut costs. But the public will need to be convinced the new forecaster can accurately predict the fickleness of the British weather, especially if it’s a foreign provider.”

What? Data are data - why does it remotely matter whether it’s a domestic provider? We’re a bit past a knowledgable local needing to squint at the sky or a piece of seaweed.

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Oh well, that’s not a colossal waste of time, energy and money then. Where would we be without privatisation?

No, I do not understand this.


I do have to say that weather predictions make sense for things like natural disasters or big weather events, but they’re so woefully inaccurate for day-to-day life that you’re better off looking out of the window and making your own prediction. Summer? It might be sunny. Spring? It’ll probably rain. Winter? Put on a coat!

I’ve had much better success with windguru (which is intended for surfers and the like) - somehow they seem to blow the met, BBC, Yahoo etc. out of the water in terms of accuracy. Maybe the BBC should hire them?

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If you look at what the qouted MP was saying, he was simply pointing out that regardless of the source or accuracy of the data, joe public needs to have confidence in it.

The quote says:

But the public will need to be convinced the new forecaster can accurately predict the fickleness of the British weather,…

So far so obvious.

"… especially if it’s a foreign provider.”

Why? What does that have to do with anything?

it’s not about the scientific veracity of the information, its about public confidence. If the information comes from “The Met Office” and carries the familiar “wibbly lines” logo, then great. We all know and trust that. If it comes from, chances are that, as long as the forecasts use the same sort of terms the met office use (e.g. not using phrases like “doppler radar” or similar) then great. If the weather reports are coming from “Deutscher Wetterdienst” for example and giving, i don’t know, air pressure information in millibars - we’re not used to that. The general public will not have confidence in that. Start dropping in terms the public are not familiar with and your report is as good as useless.

Fair point - thanks - but I don’t get the impression that the presentation will change significantly; the linked article says the on-screen meteorologists will be the same (they’re not ‘presenters’, reading someone else’s script), and I’ve read elsewhere that the on-screen graphics are provided by a different, er, provider, and won’t be changing.

Do they still use that stupid angled map?

I have to confess I don’t know - no TV :wink:

Ah; found a video: yep; still there.

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I gave up on the Met years ago, after being utterly fucking soaked biking to work one too many times & started using metcheck, but they’ve been wrong quite a lot this summer (but I imagine they’re not alone in that. ‘It’ll probably piss down, unless it doesnt. Maybe’ is as good as it’s gotten, really).

Yep, because apparently London has more weather than the rest of us so they need a bigger area of map?

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