Dear BBC…

Why, oh why…

Err, sorry. Didn’t mean to go into Points of View mode, but I do have a complaint about the BBC News site. It’s not the latest redesign – I’m quite happy with that. It’s the use of video, or in particular having videos that start playing as soon as the page loads, rather than waiting for me to decide that I want to see and hear the video and click the play button.

This would be merely mildly annoying if I was browsing the site and clicking from one page to another, but that’s not how I use the site at all. I subscribe to several RSS feeds, and look through the headlines in NetNewsWire, clicking on those that look interesting. Each story then opens in a new tab in Firefox, ready for me to read. Which would be fine, except some of the stories aren’t just text and images, they have videos, most of which start playing immediately. Sometimes several start playing at almost the same time, which means I have to switch to Firefox, identify the tabs in question and either close them or pause the video.

There’s a FAQ about the new site –, which shows that this matter has at least been considered, because it contains this:

How can I make sure videos will not start automatically?

Our redesign gives a better indication of which stories are stand-alone audio or video pieces, so that users who wish to avoid them can do so.

You will note that the question is not actually answered. Quite apart from the non-answer, it misses the point that there is no real indication in the RSS feeds that any particular story will contain video. And of course, the problem is not the use of video per se, just the obnoxious habit of having the things start playing without being told to.

This has been a public service mutter with added :rant: at no extra charge.