The Met Office- The loss of the BBC Contract and why our weather reports could become a whole lot less reliable

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The Met Office has been responsible for our essential weather forecasts for over 90 years. They have been behind every BBC reports and have even contributed towards the governmental planning towards upcoming extreme weather events. Over its time the Met Office has then very much become a part of everyday life within the UK, and so the BBC’s announcement that their contract was to finish came as somewhat of a shock to the industry. To this end here we take a look at just what this may mean for our weather forecasts.


The BBC and the Met Office

The Met Office have been partnered with the BBC since 1922, where the very first forecast was broadcast over the waves of Radio one on the 14th of November. Fast forward almost one hundred years however and the BBC were making the shock announcement of ending their contract, and tendering it on further to other organisations.


“We are legally required to go through an open tender process and take forward the strongest bids to make sure we secure both the best possible service and value for money for the licence fee payer.”

–          BBC Spokesman


The BBC have argued that this move has been due to their ongoing mission to seek the very best value for money for licence fee payers, however professionals within the industry have been somewhat alarmed, with predictions that range from weather reports that will become a little less reliable, right through to complete dismay that UK residents will be soon served up with completely incorrect weather data and predictions.


“We have one of the best Met offices in the world… there won’t be any more accurate (service) from anyone else, far less.”

–          Bill Giles, BBC Radio 5 Live Weather Reporter


The robust reliability of Met Office data

Today the Met Office is regarded as the best forecasting body in the entire world, and now provides four day weather forecasts that are as accurate as the 24 hour forecasts from 30 years ago. In solid statistics this means that their next day temperatures are correct for 91% of the time.

And whilst the BBC are yet to confirm any solid contenders for the new providers, we can at least be certain that they won’t be as accurate a provider as the Met Office has been.


Accusations of ‘dumbing down’ weather reporting and a rumour about the Met Office’s two star SmartPhone app

Other professionals within the weather industry have accused the BBC of dumbing down their weather reports, and that this point of contention had led to friction between the BBC and the Met Office.

What’s more the same official BBC source also leaked that the seeming inability for the Met Office to create a worthy SmartPhone app also led to the broadcaster’s dissatisfaction at the Met Office as the official provider for BBC weather reports.


A final word upon extreme weather warnings

It’s finally worth pointing out that the BBC themselves may not be completely confident that their new provider, whoever that may be, will live up to their predecessor’s track record. As is hinted at by the fact that the BBC will still rely upon the Met Office for the most serious and most extreme of weather events.


The team at APIXU were pretty surprised by the BBC’s announcement of the changing of the Met Office contract, particularly as we know them to have been, and to continue to be a particularly reliable source of solid weather data. Nevertheless the realm of data for consumer forecasts is one that never slows in its advancement. And for the team that is always innovating with new weather API features, there is APIXU: who power some of the most innovative weather apps in the world.


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