BBC viewers “switched off” from Ros Atkins’ Outside Source this week after a dramatic shift in its coverage. During this week’s programme, Mr Atkins moved to a live feed of the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial in the US. Viewers raged that this 15-minute live stream of the court case just after 7pm was not “breaking news” as the BBC had suggested.
At least one viewer wrote in saying he had expected Outside Source to cover the latest in the Ukraine conflict or Boris Johnson’s partygate scandal and was stunned by the amount of time given to a live court case on prime time.
BBC Newswatch is a television programme addressing viewers’ comments about BBC coverage.
Newswatch host Samira Ahmed said: “On Tuesday, the main news had been the debate in the House of Commons prompted by the fine of the Prime Minister for breaking lockdown rules.
“That evening’s Outside Source led with that story, but only briefly.”
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During his programme on Tuesday, Mr Atkins told viewers: “We will continue with our coverage of Mr Johnson’s statement in Parliament and the debate that followed.
“But let’s listen in to Johnny Depp who is giving evidence as part of a defamation trial he has brought against his ex-wife Amber Heard over allegations of domestic abuse.”
Infuriated BBC viewer Iain Drayton wrote to the corporation to complain: “I tuned in to watch Outside Source which started at 7pm.
“I was anticipating extensive coverage of the military situation in Ukraine, the return of Parliament after the Easter recess, but no!
“At 7.03pm, we went to a live feed of Johnny Depp giving a faltering account of his childhood and marriage in his defamation case!
This comes after news that Mr Johnson will be investigated by a Commons committee over claims he misled Parliament about parties in Downing Street during lockdown.
Meanwhile, Mr Depp’s court case against Ms Heard is expected to last six weeks.
He is suing for $50million (£38million) over an opinion piece written by Ms Heard in the Washington Post in which she claimed to have experienced domestic abuse.
Ms Heard, 35, has sued him in return, with a $100million (£76million) counterclaim.