The UK's national broadcaster switched instantly into mourning mode when Prince Philip’s death was announced Friday. The BBC canceled its regular programming and aired special coverage hosted by black-clad news anchors throughout the day. Popular prime-time shows such as the cooking contest MasterChef were supplanted. Some Britons saw the BBC’s actions as a fitting mark of respect. For others, it was a bit much. The broadcaster received so many complaints alleging its reporting was excessive that it set up a special website page for viewers to register objections if they felt there was "too much TV coverage of the death of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh." The AP reports it didn’t disclose how many people had complained by Saturday.
The publicly funded BBC often finds itself under fire from all sides for its treatment of major national events. When the Queen Mother Elizabeth died in 2002, the broadcaster received criticism because the announcer who delivered the news did not wear a black tie. Britain’s other TV stations also gave extensive coverage to Philip’s death, but the BBC is under unique pressure because it is taxpayer-funded. Scrutiny and questions about its role have grown in recent years as commercial rivals and streaming services give audiences more choice. BBC Director-General Tim Davie has acknowledged the organization must evolve with changing times, but says it remains essential to British society. "We have a different purpose" than broadcasters such as Netflix, Davie told UK lawmakers last month. "I'm not running a business for profit. I’m running ... an organization for purpose."
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