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Is BA Censoring News Programmes On Board?  
User currently offlineArgonaut From UK - Scotland, joined Dec 2004, 422 posts, RR: 1
Posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 6459 times:

I would be interested to hear reactions to something curious that happened to me yesterday (02 June) on a BA flight from LHR to BWI (Flight BA0229).

Like all of us here, I am a TAP (= Total Aviation Person), so I really wanted to hear if there was any more news about the Air France A330 tragedy. In the BA entertainment system, 'news' means a BBC World News report, apparently recorded before take-off. The BBC is justly renowned for its objectivity and good judgement, which makes what follows all the more strange.

I watched the BBC World News report until it ended, which took about twenty minutes, and paid attention to its variety of news items. The top three were President Obama's visit to the Middle East, the bankruptcy of General Motors and the continuing British scandal over the expense claims of Members of Parliament. There followed several reports of lesser significance.

But here is the strange thing: The BBC World News report carried not even a single word about the Air France A330 disaster---even though this had been the first or second item on the BBC News for many hours before I boarded the plane. Somehow, on the airborne news programme, it was as though the AF crash had simply never happened at all. ...Yet this morning, 03 June, only one day later, it was still the lead item on the NPR news in the USA and on the BBC News online.

Here come my questions:
Why was this important news item missing from the BBC News available on board my British Airways flight?
Secondly, was the AF 330 story missing from the BBC News on all BA flights?
Lastly, is it acceptable that a company be able to eliminate disagreeable news from its onboard entertainment systems?

I find it hard not to conclude that BA decided that its passengers should not hear a news item that might have upset them. I can understand why BA would think of it that way. But is it right that BA should eliminate a disagreeable (to them) news item from the reports available to its pasengers in flight? Did BA cut out this news item for commercial reasons (such as keeping paying passengers from being scared of flying)? And was the BBC complicit?

Am I crazy? What do you think?

RJ


'the rank is but the guinea stamp'
24 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineLarshjort From Denmark, joined Dec 2007, 1525 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 6429 times:

It's normal for airlines to do after a plane crash. Turkish Airlines did not distribute papers to the passengers after the crash earlier this year.

/Lars



139, 306, 319, 320, 321, 332, 34A, AN2, AT4, AT5, AT7, 733, 735, 73G, 738, 739, 146, AR1, BH2, CN1, CR2, DH1, DH3, DH4,
User currently offlineGFFgold From Indonesia, joined Feb 2007, 443 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 6420 times:

I guess that airlines have the right to decide what gets shown on their IFE, but I also suspect the BBC might be a little peeved if programs are passed off as their output without some disclaimer somewhere that these are 'edited highights' or something.

User currently offlineAirvan00 From Australia, joined Oct 2008, 758 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 6417 times:

Quite normal. Also not many airline disaster movies are shown on the IFE.

User currently offlineGFFgold From Indonesia, joined Feb 2007, 443 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 2 days ago) and read 6400 times:



Quoting Airvan00 (Reply 3):

Hee hee! Though I well remember 'The Poseidon Adventure' screened on a car ferry trip in Europe.


User currently offlineMal787 From Australia, joined Jul 2007, 713 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 2 days ago) and read 6356 times:

Slightly related QF did not show any footage the day or days after Ansett collapsed . Also showing footage of a crash in flight might not be to comforting to nervous fliers,, might just be a case of BA being sensitive to all passeners.

mal787



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User currently offlineBlueFlyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 4180 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 6297 times:
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Quoting GFFgold (Reply 2):
I also suspect the BBC might be a little peeved if programs are passed off as their output without some disclaimer somewhere that these are 'edited highights' or something.

Not peeved at all. The ability to edit out "airline-sensitive material" (the BBC's words) from their in-flight news programming is actually a selling point... In other words, someone at BA picked up the phone, called Television Centre and said no Air France crash news, et voila... Or even simpler, the contract between the two B's might even stipulate no airliner crash reporting ever...

[Edited 2009-06-03 23:04:50]


I've got $h*t to do
User currently offlineNormie999 From United Kingdom, joined May 2009, 151 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 6193 times:

When Rain Man was released

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0095953

wasn't it claimed that the only airlne to screen the movie unedited was Qantas? (ref to the savant, played by Dustin Hoffman answering Q: which airlne has never suffered a fatal crash? A: Qantas).


User currently offlineAirbusA6 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2005, 2038 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 5992 times:

I'm sure the contract with the BBC states

1) No stories about air crashes
2) No stories about Virgin Atlantic and Sir Richard Branson Big grin

On a related subject, didn't BA censure the Bond movie that showed him flying on VS?



it's the bus to stansted (now renamed national express a4 to ruin my username)
User currently offlineVV701 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 7740 posts, RR: 17
Reply 9, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 5989 times:

My view is that an airline that screens a news report in-flight about an an airliner crash or shows a film about an air crash is in total conflict with its obligations to look after the well being of its passengers.

If BA had shown the report on the AF 330 accident, passengers of a very nervous disposition might well have become very agitated. (It is well known that many individuals have a phobia about even boarding an aircraft.)

At best a report or film involving an air crash could have adversley impacted other passengers travelling in the same cabin or cabins as those with such a nervous disposition. At worst it could have resulted in a medical emergency diversion.

Just think of the adverse media reaction to such an event. Our screens would be filled with so-called experts pontificating on the incident and BA's role in creating it. BA would be accused of everything from crass stupidity to actually endangering the lives of all of the passengers on the flight.

Sounds far fetched? Just read some of the other threads on a.net involving media reports before you make up your mind whether the above scenario is totally impossible. So why take the risk, however small it might be?


User currently offlineWestjet!Eh! From Canada, joined Jul 2001, 153 posts, RR: 3
Reply 10, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 5977 times:

On the other side, Virgin Blue use "Live" News (from Fox News). It mentioned about US Airways accident.

User currently offlineGardermoen From Australia, joined Jul 1999, 1523 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 5940 times:

On the other side, Virgin Blue use "Live" News (from Fox News). It mentioned about US Airways accident

I remember I was flying Virgin Blue MEL-SYD the day after this happened. It was on the live news channel and there was a middle aged couple seated next to me. He flipped when he saw it and asked his wife to switch the screen off!


User currently offlineMainMAN From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2005, 2115 posts, RR: 5
Reply 12, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 5811 times:



Quoting Argonaut (Thread starter):
Lastly, is it acceptable that a company be able to eliminate disagreeable news from its onboard entertainment systems?

Absolutely acceptable. I'd say that all passengers on all flights know the element of risk in flying, and I don't think it serves anyone well to report on accidents (especially at 35,000 feet when it's way too late to panic and get off!)

I remember hiding newspapers from my mother's view whilst on a flight from ZRH to MAN in 1991, the day after SAS flight 751 had crashed into a field in Sweden.


User currently offlineDanfearn77 From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2008, 1821 posts, RR: 8
Reply 13, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 5759 times:

I supose it could be to do with what the passenger might think. If you have a nervous flyer and he looks at the news and reads of an air accident he may become distressed. Just my two cents. Cant really see any other reasons.


Eagles may soar high, but weasels dont get sucked into jet engines!
User currently offlineBurkhard From Germany, joined Nov 2006, 4409 posts, RR: 2
Reply 14, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 5735 times:

According to German laws, it is not allowed to mention names of competitors in your publications. I know British laws are less strict, but the contract may well contain a "nothing about competitors", which would exclude the Air France A380 ceremony (before the BA one) as much as this so sad news.

User currently offlineToulouse From Switzerland, joined Apr 2005, 2759 posts, RR: 57
Reply 15, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 5570 times:

Argonaut, to be honest and in all respect I'm a bit surprised by your shock that footage about the AF crash was not shown in flight on your BA flight. Glad to see the consensus here seems to be that it was the correct move for BA to make.

Quoting Mal787 (Reply 5):
Also showing footage of a crash in flight might not be to comforting to nervous fliers,, might just be a case of BA being sensitive to all passeners.

Exactly.

Quoting VV701 (Reply 9):
My view is that an airline that screens a news report in-flight about an an airliner crash or shows a film about an air crash is in total conflict with its obligations to look after the well being of its passengers.

That sums it up totally in my opinion VV701, well done!



Long live Aer Lingus!
User currently offlineBellerophon From United Kingdom, joined May 2002, 585 posts, RR: 59
Reply 16, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 5513 times:

Normie999

...Q: which airline has never suffered a fatal crash? A: Qantas)...

That answer is, as many on this forum will already know, factually incorrect.

Whilst QANTAS has an enviable safety record, especially in recent times, there have been around 70 fatalities over the years in QANTAS accidents, about which further details are available by clicking here

It is correct to say that QANTAS has never suffered a fatal accident to a jet aircraft, and long may this continue.


Argonaut

In my view, VV701 has it exactly right.

I would not expect BA to show such footage, and I would not make any reference to it in any cabin address onboard.


Best Regards

Bellerophon


User currently offlineBlueFlyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 4180 posts, RR: 2
Reply 17, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 5367 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Incidentally, it isn't only in the air that airlines censure plane crash news. I was in one of ORD's AAdmiral Clubs waiting for a flight a few years back when news stations started reporting a plane crash (sorry, can't remember which). Club staff quickly went around shutting down every television set.


I've got $h*t to do
User currently offlineArgonaut From UK - Scotland, joined Dec 2004, 422 posts, RR: 1
Reply 18, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 5314 times:

Thank you for your responses, everyone.

I guess I'm in the minority in thinking there's something creepy about interfering with the dissemination of information, especially in something purporting to be a "World News Report" (not to mention one with the cachet of the BBC). Are we not entitled to expect that such a news programme will offer us complete coverage? I think that's how nearly all of us would by default think of a news programme---that it would provide at least the major stories of the day.

If an important piece of news is deliberately left out and we are not told of the fact, at best it's disingenuous, and at worst it's censorship. Whether a government does such a thing for political reasons or an airline does it for commercial reasons surely doesn't alter the fact. (If an airline chooses to do it because it doesn't want to frighten its customers, it's still a commercial decision, presumably based on the completely reasonable notion that frightened customers might not come back.)

Although I don't like the idea of "altering" movies either, I don't think messing around with something fictional is in quite the same ethical territory as "altering" a news report by eliminating an entire factual item without a hint.

Why not simply suspend the whole news programme for a few days until the controversial item fades from the headlines?

Quoting GFFgold (Reply 2):
I also suspect the BBC might be a little peeved if programs are passed off as their output without some disclaimer somewhere that these are 'edited highights' or something.

Agreed. And a disclaimer would be another acceptable way to go. Perhaps better, because the airline wouldn't risk complaints from pax who want to watch the news and find it temporarily suspended without explanation. Something like "Matters of a sensitive nature have been edited from this report" might suffice.

I entirely take VV701's well-expressed point about an airline's obligations to its passengers. However, it's not why BA did it that that bothers me; on the contrary, I understand absolutely their concern over the AF disaster. Plenty people are nervous enough about flying, without making matters worse by exposing them to stories of plane crashes. I just wish the airline had found a more honest way to deal with it.

Thanks again.



'the rank is but the guinea stamp'
User currently offlineElmothehobo From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 1545 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 5282 times:



Quoting Gardermoen (Reply 11):
I remember I was flying Virgin Blue MEL-SYD the day after this happened. It was on the live news channel and there was a middle aged couple seated next to me.

Passengers on the JetBlue flight from Burbank to New York that diverted to LAX back in 2005 could have watched their little drama unfold live on their IFE if they chose.


User currently offlineSketty222 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2006, 1778 posts, RR: 3
Reply 20, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 5201 times:



Quoting Airvan00 (Reply 3):
Quite normal. Also not many airline disaster movies are shown on the IFE.

Believe it or not Ive been on a flight wherethey showed Alive  eek  Big grin

Quoting Argonaut (Reply 18):
Are we not entitled to expect that such a news programme will offer us complete coverage? I think that's how nearly all of us would by default think of a news programme---that it would provide at least the major stories of the day.

I can see where you are coming from because in a way it is censorship but on the other hand, maybe its good to keep some news from a certain audience, ie story about an aircraft falling out of the sky at 35,000 feet, whist your flying at 35,000 feet.

Quoting Argonaut (Reply 18):
I don't think messing around with something fictional is in quite the same ethical territory as "altering" a news report by eliminating an entire factual item without a hint.

But what about the airlines who dont have IFE? Passengers flying on these aircraft would be in the same position as in they wouldnt know about what news items where happening either.

I do like the point of discussion though



There's flying and then there's flying
User currently offlineRichierich From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 4297 posts, RR: 6
Reply 21, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 4989 times:



Quoting Elmothehobo (Reply 19):
Passengers on the JetBlue flight from Burbank to New York that diverted to LAX back in 2005 could have watched their little drama unfold live on their IFE if they chose.

That's correct.
I asked JetBlue about this once and they made it quite clear that they do not censor what is on their live tv system. I can't imagine what people thought about watching their own plane flying around for 3 hours with the gear down at LAX in 2005, every moment being scrutinized by a kill-happy media frenzy. It must have made a white-knuckle situation all the more scary, but I think JetBlue was correct to leave the tvs on (I believe they were turned off for a crew briefing prior to the landing.)

Imagine 9/11 and watching it unfold from another aircraft while in-flight. It happened for some JetBlue passengers that horrible morning; I imagine there was some extra attention paid to the other passengers and their movements!

On a lighter note - nothing to do with censorship - when Maria Sharapova won her Wimbledon title a few years back, she memorably made a phone call and couldn't get through to her mother after the match. That's because, supposedly, her mother had watched the match while flying JetBlue! Can you picture sitting in an airplane seat and watching your daughter win the most prestigious tennis tournament from satellite tv? Wow.

I don't necessarily agree with BA's decision to censor the news (or movies) but it is certainly their right. Given the particularly sensititve nature of the missing and crashed AF447, it is understandable and I wouldn't hold it against them. It's an airline, not the government.



None shall pass!!!!
User currently offlineArgonaut From UK - Scotland, joined Dec 2004, 422 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 4882 times:



Quoting Sketty222 (Reply 20):
But what about the airlines who dont have IFE? Passengers flying on these aircraft would be in the same position as in they wouldnt know about what news items where happening either

Actually, they really wouldn't be in the same position. At least they would know they had no access to any news at all, and so would have no expectations. On the other hand, passengers on a flight with IFE that offered news programmes might watch it and assume they were seeing a fully comprehensive report, unaware that anything was missing. That's the very nature of blanket censorship and how it works.

From an airline's point of view, this sort of thing might seem hard to handle. One might say they're "damned if they do, damned if they don't." But I'm disappointed BA doesn't have a fairer policy, one that's better thought through. As has been pointed out earlier, even though it's an admittedly tricky matter, there are other options as to how to deal with it.

Perhaps I'm a little sensitive, since I have experience of living in a police state. If commercial organisations (not just airlines) indulge freely in doctoring the news that reaches people, to me it seems very disagreeable, even subtly dangerous.

I'm sure BA isn't the only airline that does this, unfortunately.

On the bright side, I really enjoyed the flight!



'the rank is but the guinea stamp'
User currently offlineFghtngsiouxatc From United States of America, joined Mar 2009, 218 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 4519 times:

Not sure about the censoring of TV shows, but when I flew BA in 2002 when I was only 12, they were showing the moview "Hardball" and let me say it was a very graphic movie for a 12 year old to see! No censoring whatsoever! But they shouldn't have to censor a movie just because a kid is on the plane...just MHO

User currently offlineFuturePilot16 From United States of America, joined Mar 2007, 2035 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (5 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 4378 times:



Quoting Fghtngsiouxatc (Reply 23):
Not sure about the censoring of TV shows, but when I flew BA in 2002 when I was only 12, they were showing the moview "Hardball" and let me say it was a very graphic movie for a 12 year old to see! No censoring whatsoever! But they shouldn't have to censor a movie just because a kid is on the plane...just MHO

Exactly, if the parents don't like it, bring a video Ipod



"The brave don't live forever, but the cautious don't live at all."
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