Met Office loses BBC contract but maritime forecasts unaffected
The UK Met Office will no longer provide weather forecasts to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). From spring 2017, weather forecasts broadcast by the BBC on television, radio and the Internet will be provided by private weather firm MeteoGroup.
The selection of MeteoGroup, a private equity owned weather company based in Holland, was made in August, although the end of the Met Office’s contract with the BBC was announced in August 2015. It is the first time since BBC weather broadcasts began in 1922 that the weather data will not be provided by the Met Office.
Nigel Charters, project director for BBC Weather re-procurement, explained: ‘We’ve carried out a thorough, regulated procurement process to test all the organisations that applied on a wide range of areas including data, forecasting, graphics and technology. This decision will mean we can further modernise our weather forecasting, making the most of new technology and science, to bring our audiences an even better service. The vast majority of our well-known and much-loved presenters will continue to front BBC Weather. It will also save us millions of pounds over the next seven or so years.’
Maritime forecasts on BBC services, such as the shipping forecast and severe weather warnings, will still be provided by the Met Office, however, as these fall under a different contract. All forecasts provided by the Martime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) over VHF radio, such as the shipping and inshore waters forecast, gale, strong wind and storm warnings will continue to be provided by the Met Office.
A spokesperson for the MCA said: ‘The shipping forecast is paid for and provided by the MCA as part of a suite of maritime services that fall under our obligations from the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention. The provision of the shipping forecast will continue to be from the MCA’s current chosen supplier, which is the Met Office. The MCA will continue to supply the shipping forecast and associated marine weather warnings to the BBC under a separate agreement.’
MeteoGroup, which has 16 offices around the world, was founded in the Netherlands in 1986. It currently provides weather services to broadcasters including Sky and Channel 4.
MeteoGroup chairman Richard Sadler commented: ‘It has been a demanding selection process. I am delighted that MeteoGroup has emerged as the successful bidder based on rigorous criteria, including our forecasting and the quality of our visuals.’
The Met Office did not comment on what impact the loss of the BBC contract might have on their operations, but remained upbeat: ‘The BBC is one of a number of the Met Office’s customers. We’ve known for a year that our relationship with the BBC is going to change and have been working hard to make sure everyone can continue to access our forecasts and warnings on a range of channels, including our new app,’ a spokesman said.
Helen Chivers, Met Office head of news, said: ‘Our long-standing relationship with the BBC will continue as they broadcast our national severe weather warnings and interview our experts.’
Met Office data could still be used in BBC weather forecasts, however, as it is widely sold to the private forecasting sector. ExBBC weatherman and managing director of Weather Consultancy Services Simon Keeling explained:
‘MeteoGroup will have access to Met Office data but the graphics systems at the BBC can import many various computer models, where at the moment you just see the Met Office.’
‘This is a huge moment for private sector weather in the UK. It’s time to prove we can operate more effectively than the Met Office and give reliable forecasts.’
From spring 2017, the Met Office will not supply BBC weather data
The shipping forecast, read by Carolyn Brown, remains a Met Office service