BBC Draws Smaller U.K. TV Audience on Final Day of Jubilee Coverage

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Meanwhile, an executive from the public broadcaster defends the company amid criticism of some of its coverage.

LONDON - The BBC's Tuesday coverage of the final day of diamond jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II drew a lower audience for the public broadcaster than the two days before, but still aggregated a large TV crowd.

Tuesday's Diamond Jubilee service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul's Cathedral averaged 4.5 million viewers, or a share of 40 percent of the TV audience at that time, the BBC said Wednesday. At its peak, the coverage reached 5.4 million people, or a 44.2 percent audience share.

The diamond jubilee carriage procession later in the day averaged 6.2 million, or a 41.9 percent share, with a  peak performance of 7.4 million, or 45.5 percent.

On Monday night, the BBC had drawn the biggest jubilee audience and the year's biggest TV audience in the U.K. with a star-studded jubilee concert. It attracted an average of 14.7 million viewers, for a 57.4 percent share of TV viewers. At its peak, the network brought in 17 million viewers, or a share of 65.4 percent.

The BBC's Sunday coverage of a fleet pageant down the river Thames, led by the Queen, had reached an average of 10.3 million viewers, for a 55.9 percent share.

The BBC's Thames pageant coverage had drawn some viewer criticism, with some calling it fluffy. In a Twitter post, actor and writer Stephen Fry, the narrator of the "Harry Potter" audio books, had called the coverage "mind-numbingly tedious."

BBC Vision director George Entwistle, the broadcaster's senior executive in charge of the  jubilee coverage and a contender for the top BBC hob of director general, has not come out in defense of the coverage so far. He went on vacation on Tuesday evening, the Guardian reported Wednesday.

On a BBC radio program on Wednesday, Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer defended his employer. The public broadcaster simply tried to be "informal…inclusive and warm," but "probably tried too hard," the Guardian quoted him as saying. "If you have got that many presenters around the river, you are not going to like all of them each the same amount."

The paper also quoted a senior BBC source as admitting that some of the jubilee coverage did not "go to plan."

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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