BBC Bucharest

I don’t talk about it too often but most of my long-time readers know that I have a special love for TV weather reports. Back when I lived in Cluj-Napoca, I had a better computer and so watched a lot of TV news feeds online but these days I rely on (free) satellite channels.

I could easily write a long article about all of my favorite weather reports as well as the ones I don’t like, ranking them into categories such as best global coverage (France 24) or worst graphics (Rai 24) but we’ll save that for another day.

Between my wife and I, we watch the news in five different languages every day, one of them being the BBC. It’s been so long since I’ve actually set foot in the UK that I’m not sure whether the World Service channel that we get here in Moldova is identical (in terms of weather reports) to the “homeland” UK channel that Britons watch.

What I do know, however, is that it’s quite curious how the BBC always includes Bucharest both on its “European weather” map and when the meteorologist is talking about the weather “on the continent”. I took a screengrab so you can see how unusual it is, as the BBC tends to believe in “less is more” when displaying temperatures (most channels cram in temperature information for 20 or more cities).

Out of all of the cities in central and eastern Europe, why do they choose to include Bucharest? No idea. But day in and day out, they always include Bucharest. Is it because Prince Charles owns property in Romania? Or that the issue of Romanians emigrating to Britain was a huge deal a couple of years ago? Or that King Mihai of Romania is a relative of Queen Elizabeth? Or that it just fits better since they needed a city to add in the middle? I honestly don’t know.

But it made me wonder just how much British tourism in Romania is subtly influenced by the BBC’s weather report. After all, the other cities mentioned are pretty popular tourist destinations (Madrid, Paris, etc) and well-known to most Britons. Somebody, somewhere in the UK is probably watching those weather reports and wondering where Bucharest is. Even on an unconscious level, the BBC weather updates are constantly triggering thoughts of Romania, the kind of advertising that hugely expensive media campaigns try to emulate.

And yet the BBC is doing it for free, day after day. Anyway, there’s no grand point to this post, only pointing out how the BBC is unknowingly (or knowingly?) constantly and subtly getting millions of Britons and people around the world to think about Romania.

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