Belfast Telegraph

Rating shift shows true BBC viewers

BBC bosses have hailed a new way of measuring audiences - which shows twice as many people as originally thought saw a controversial edition of Top Gear.

The BBC2 show prompted an apology to the Mexican ambassador after presenters were accused of making "inexcusable insults" to his fellow countrymen.

The BBC is publishing "Live +7" audience measurements each month which show not only live viewing but recordings, repeats and iPlayer for the following seven days.

However the new figures released today, show the controversial edition was among the most watched programmes on BBC2 in January.

Mexicans were described as "lazy", "feckless" and "flatulent", during the January 30 edition of the show presented by Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond.

The country's London-based ambassador, Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza, wrote to the BBC to complain about the "outrageous, vulgar and inexcusable insults". The BBC later apologised.

The new figures show the combined audience for the programme was 97% greater than for the original scheduled screening, with 10.6 million viewers.

The corporation said the new measure, with soon to be published audience appreciation information, will "provide the BBC with its most accurate assessment of programme value to date".

The Live +7 figures reveal some of the BBC's most-watched shows draw more than four million more viewers when measured over seven days.

For smaller digital channels the increase amounts to several hundred percent.

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