The Met Office's contract to provide weather forecasts for the BBC has been terminated, but retains other BBC contracts for critical services
The Met Office has lost its weather forecasting contract with the BBC. The news has caused alarm in many national headlines and there is uncertainty around the future of some weather presenting jobs at the BBC.
The end of the contract may not be as significant as initially feared, however, as it has emerged that the terminated contract is for weather presentation, data and graphics, is only one of a number of contracts between the BBC and the Met Office. Other contracts include the public weather service contract, which covers the provision of the shipping and inshore waters forecasts, and the severe weather warnings service contract, according to the BBC.
Former Met Office forecaster, and founder of Weatherweb.net Simon Keeling, said, ‘There won’t be any change to the service sailors’ receive, and even the forecasts on television, weather apps and on the radio may not change much either as a private company could use Met Office data and overlay it onto the same graphics.’
A new forecast provider has not yet been selected, but sailing weather forecaster Chris Tibbs was concerned about a potential loss of accuracy:
‘The Met Office is pretty accurate for the UK. I don’t know what forecast model will be used by whoever provides the forecast, but it may not be so well tuned to the UK, as it takes time to take things like topography local climates into account.’
Simon Keeling was not worried that there would be a significant change in accuracy. ‘The method of producing the forecast will change little. Currently the forecast chief looks at the Met Office weather model but takes models into account, and this is exactly what will happen with another supplier.’
A BBC spokesperson promised that ‘Our viewers get the highest standard of weather service and that won’t change.’