BBC abolishes policy of crunching down credits in face of viewer backlash

New DG orders changes to the system of disappearing credits in the face of viewer revolt

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BBC abolishes policy of crunching down credits in face of viewer backlash
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The BBC is abolishing the practice of squeezing credits at the end of programmes after it has proved so infuriating for viewers.

The practice has been quietly dispensed with in favour of a new system which manages to inform viewers about upcoming programmes without crunching down the list of credits.

The BBC’s desire to address the problem was announced by new BBC director-general Tony Hall in an interview with the Radio Times and the BBC introduced a new system on Friday.

Responding to a question from Radio times reader Janet Hooles, who claimed that “squashing credits into unreadable sizes at the end of a programme shows total disrespect for those taking part in the production” Hall said:  Yes. Well, we’re changing it. It’s the curtain call. You want to make sure that the creative team get their proper bow. So we have got a new way of doing it, starting right away.”

There will still be voice over continuity announcements which some viewers may still object to because they feel it interferes with the enjoyment of theme music.

The wish to change the practise is also not new – earlier this year the BBC promised that every comedy or drama would have the credits run in full and uninterrupted on at east one episode of its run.

However the BBC’s move was still welcomed by performers’ union Equity which has long campaigned against the practise.

The union’s deputy general secretary Martin Brown told RadioTimes.com: “Equity members will be delighted that the ending of credit squeezing at the BBC. We know from our own research that legible credits are as important to audiences as they are to our members and we applaud the BBC for making this change”.

The practice has also long infuriated viewers.

In 2007 Mark Thompson, then BBC director general, received what was said to be an irate letter from Dame Judi Dench who complained about credit squeezing.

Recently Equity published research in which a large number of the 10,000 respondents to a survey expressed near universal disgust with credit squeezing, complaining how it ruined their viewing experience and prompted them to switch sides.

Sky has already promised to abolish the practice altogether after its own research found three-quarters of its own viewers believe that these are important for actors and has promised that   end credits on programmes commissioned and acquired.

Sky’s own research found more than a third of its customers – 36% – like to read end credits, and 39% feel they are “important” for viewers. About three-quarters of its viewers – 71% – also say “end credits are important for actors”.

In his question and answer with Radio Times readers, Hall has also called upon actors appearing in BBC dramas to stop muttering.

He said: “I don’t want to sound like a grumpy old man, but I also think muttering is something we could have a look at. Actors muttering can be testing – you find you have missed a line… you have to remember that you have an audience.”