Measurement units – a daily dilemma for the media

We take a look at a uniquely British problem faced by our media and in particular the BBC, namely which system of measurement units to use.

On 23 December 2014, this headline and story appeared in the London Evening Standard:

“Father crushed by falling tree tells how he cheated death by millimetres

A father who escaped death ‘by millimetres’ when he was crushed by a tree … today said it was a miracle to be able to spend Christmas with his wife and daughter.

Carlos Rocha, 30, remains in hospital almost two months after the 60ft tree crashed on top of him in Belgravia.”

We have all come across similar examples of a mixture of measurement units in the media, and they illustrate the daily dilemma faced by editors: which units to use?

Now that the majority of the population in Britain have been taught metric units at school, these might be the obvious choice, particularly for media seeking a younger audience. But the readership of newspapers tends towards older generations, hence the fondness of certain titles for ‘legacy’ units.

The dilemma is brought into sharp focus at the BBC, which attempts to please its audiences, government, licence payers and a range of other interests, and succeeds occasionally in upsetting all of them.

In an attempt to bring some order into this muddled situation, the BBC has added a “Weights and measures” section to its BBC news style guide. This may be found at:

The style guide adopts a ‘horses for courses’ approach – metric here and Imperial there, depending on circumstances. An extract from the guide, illustrating this approach appears here:

Extract – BBC Style Guide

UKMA has concerns about the approach adopted in the BBC news style guide, in particular its failure to follow internationally agreed rules for the use of metric units. These concerns were raised with the Director of BBC News and Current Affairs. UKMA’s letter and his response appear here:

UKMA Letter to BBC News and Current Affairs

Harding’s reply dated 11th February 2014

UKMA has some sympathy for the BBC, facing a dilemma when setting out a media policy on measurement units in a country which encourages and occasionally requires the use of two different measurement systems, and we responded to the BBC accordingly. UKMA’s response began:

“We can understand your difficulties in preparing a style guide which covers both Imperial measures, for which there are few rules, and metric measures, which follow internationally-recognised rules. On reflection, perhaps we could suggest that the BBC style guide should make this distinction and point out that if using SI units, then the rules of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) should be followed.”

This letter appears in full here:

UKMA’s response dated 15th July 2014

This article illustrates how far we have to travel before the UK has a single, simple and universal measurement system, understood by all and familiar to all – a situation taken for granted in most other countries around the world. It also shows how the media can contribute to achieving this goal and how their problems with measurement units will continue in the mean time.

40 thoughts on “Measurement units – a daily dilemma for the media”

  1. Judging by his response Mr Harding’s thinking is governed by the method of measurement he believes to be intrinsically British.
    The problem is that most of the people with power and influence in the media are ultra conservative. Daily Mail and General Trust plc (DMGT) is a huge media conglomerate with interests in newspapers, television and radio. The parent newspaper is as reactionary and anti-metric as possible and it has so much influence right across the media. DMGT owns the Metro newspaper and has a minority share in The London Evening Standard. These papers used to use quite a lot of SI measurements in their reports but I’ve noticed lately that they have regressed more and more to imperial. I believe that the only reason this has happened is because of orders from above. A progressive media could make an enormous difference to attaining a proper system of measurement for the UK. Sadly the likes of James Harding, DMGT and Rupert Murdoch will fight tooth and nail to stop it.


  2. How often does a headline involve a measure involving a number and unit symbol. I rarely see this on the BBC site. I suspect their real issue is the need to use non-breaking spaces in body text to keep number and unit together on a line. I would also like to introduce them to “L” for litres. I’m sure all the “itres” saved would offset the spaces. Is the capital L symbol not used in the UK?

    At least they are more willing to use well-known unit symbols than Associated Press (AP) and their overall metric policy is better. AP would drop any metric unless “important to the story” and require a conversion for any metric retained, with isolated exceptions like 35-mm film. BBC has a better sense of when the story should be metric-primary, even if we believe the policy should be “always.”


  3. Thank you for writing this post. I was getting very confused by what I was hearing on the BBC World Service as of late since it seems to me Imperial units are being used more than was the case a while ago.

    I find it especially confusing when Imperial units are used by a reporter in a country outside the UK and the USA where clearly the local units or the info provided by local authorities had to be metric.

    I especially note the reference in the BBC’s reply to the claim that the UK is not a metric nation else road signs would be metric. All the more reason to push for metrication of those road signs!


  4. @ John Steele

    I’ve noticed we tend to use L when it’s referring to litres, but will use ml or cl. These aren’t uniform, and sometimes “ltr” ends up being used. I indeed have products in my cupboard marked 1.5 l and 150 mL, so even our symbols are a mess.

    I would commend the BBC when they were reporting the largest container ship in the world coming to Britain – I noticed on the TV reports that only metric was used to describe the dimensions of the ship. They did give equivalences in “length of football pitches” or “height of Big Ben” – though I generally don’t mind them doing this as this gives people a physical standard they may be familiar with to relate something. Large measures can be particularly difficult to relate to in any system of measures.

    I would however, pick the BBC up on their use of symbols. I understand the measurement muddle puts the BBC in a difficult place and it’s difficult not to use units such as miles and mph in the UK, as kilometres and km/h aren’t as widely understood; however, in the last month I’ve seen km/h abbreviated as both kph and kmph, I notice that their style guide explicitly rejects pluralisation but doesn’t prescribe correct symbols, as it obviously should.

    I am pretty sure that the degree fahrenheit could be completely phased out of all news reporting, as there surely can’t be anybody left in the UK who doesn’t understand ºC. The same could be said of the gallon, which they sometimes confuse between US and imperial giving incorrect conversions to litres.


  5. I think this is going to be a popular topic. Firstly I totally disagree with Mr Harding’s response; he is obviously a metric hater.
    I disagree that UK is not a metric country. We have had metric education for a minimum of 45 years, that was the completion time, not the start time. Metric-educated adults are in the majority. Everything in the shops should be metric; most are.

    “We aim to use common sense” OMG! and “we use metric when reporting on metric countries”. OK, the massacre in Paris last week, in metric? I don’t even know what planet he is on, let alone what TV channel he was watching. Metric it was not; a downright insult to the French is what it was; it made my blood boil. Later, an article on climbing that sheer face of whatever, in USA, 100% metric!! At last something I could understand. So US metric, France Imperial. Is that common sense and reason?
    BBC, do get a grip of reality, that would be a start.
    Every country outside of US is metric. I have never heard them reported in metric. Where was the metric on the Malaysian airline searches?
    Total rubbish. Science metric? I’m speechless. I have stopped watching anything with two certain scientists in them as I know I will understand nothing. ” When writing for a younger audience, we will use metric”. OK, so who is the One Show aimed at? Children feature regularly doing cycle rides, rickshaw rides, all sorts. Where is the metric there? It is not.
    Similar stupidities are limitless.
    The biggest insult of all “… it would be presumptuous to expect everyone in UK to be conversant with metric measurements.” Why? Why are US OLD FOLK used as a weapon for your stupid anti-metric leanings? Quite clearly the youngsters are expected to understand it too.
    One question then Mr Harding, just how long will it be before US OLD FOLK are deemed fit to be exposed to metric? 40 years, obviously not. 50 years? Too late for that one. 100 years maybe? Perhaps another 200 years then.


  6. @ BrianAC

    I think the failure of the education system comes into play here; I am 21, yet many of my friends struggle with metric measures in many ways. Aside from the obvious issue of kilometres and km/h not being understood; even from people from the period of so-called “metric education”, say your height or weight in metric and you just get blank stares. Even describing how far away something is in metres often results in them asking “what’s that in feet?” I even have friends in their early 20s, so born around 1989-94 who say they can visualise imperial measures better!
    It just exposes the complete failure of successive governments to finish the job and have the whole country working on one system of measurement.


  7. Foreign media seem to have far less trouble in this regard. This is a small extract from the Toronto Star’s Wheels section on winter trips available in the countryside around the big city:

    ” When the temperatures and the leaves drop, Muskoka literally transforms into a winter playground. Arrowhead Provincial Park in Huntsville has a range of activities for the outdoor enthusiast. There are more than 33 kilometers of groomed cross-country ski trails designed for classic skiing or skate skiing – beginner to expert. The park also offers snowshoeing trails, a tubing hill for youngsters and Ontario’s best-kept winter secret – the 1.3 kilometer ice skating trail through a snow covered forest.

    If you’re feeling the need for more speed, Muskoka is one of Ontario’s preferred snowmobiling destinations with great conditions, tons of snow and more than 1600 kilometers of exceptional trails that crisscross the region.

    Road Trip Travel Time: from Toronto: (200km) 2 hours (approx.)”

    While the spelling is more American than Canadian (the author of this article was not one of the Star’s own but a guest writer), there is rarely any question of anything other than metric units. Most if not all Canadian media have similar policies, and imperial units are rare (though not completely unknown, and usually context-dependent).


  8. @Charlie
    I agree. On these pages there are posts from educators that are proud of the fact they have perpetuated this farcical situation, backed by RH PM David Cameron and others that say we should teach more Imperial. On this basis, the world is wrong, only these are right.

    However, what should the responsible response of the official media be? It seems the response is to buck responsibility and just go with the flow, the soft option, follow mass hysteria, don’t rock the boat, it will be all right on the night type approach. I believe a little more of the education should come to the fore.

    Whichever way we turn, it all comes back to DfT, even the official BBC policy is claimed to revolve around this idea of miles on the road. What is totally missed is that miles applies ONLY to cars on public roads (as pints applies ONLY to draught beer).

    All road maps in UK are based on the ordnance survey maps, that includes road maps for cars. OS maps are totally metric and have been since around 1964. The grid reference has been metric since the 1940’s I believe. From this then all car road maps have been converted from the official metric into DfT miles. Get out of your car and it is metric all the way. Walkers, climbers, runners, hackers, cyclists, swimmers, railways, it is metric. Why does the car reign supreme? Now feet for height. OK, so the pilots use it. That’s it, leave it there. 33,000 feet means 10 km to me. A 100 ft hill means very little or nothing.

    So, BBC, which should you be using, the official government OS metric, or the converted DfT miles? My view is you should follow the government OS maps.

    About roads being metric is covered in length elsewhere in these pages.


  9. Slightly off topic, but Dr Metric aka Alan Young has just posted this message on Facebook:

    “No more Fahrenheit or Inches. CONGRATULATIONS to the BBC Weather Team.
    Have you noticed that in the last few weeks the BBC weather forecasts have dropped the use of Fahrenheit and inches? This is a great step forward for the education of our youngsters.
    I think the BBC forecasters need as much support as we can give them so that they are less tempted to revert to their old habits. It has taken a long time to get them to this position and we don’t want all that hard work undone.
    I have written them a letter congratulating them and enclosing three copies of my document ‘How Big is an Acre? No–one Knows’ so they are aware of the full educational arguments.
    If you want to show them your support, please go to and send them an email. “


  10. James Harding appears to be missing the point. If members of the audience are not conversant with metric measurement, then the BBC is obliged under the terms of its charter to educate them. As I have no idea of the size of a football pitch it may be useful for me if the presenter said “that’s ‘n’ metres or ‘y’ football pitches”. My impression of the BBC news is that they play the same game as the likes of the Daily Mail; only report that that accords with the views of your readership. If that requires a certain degree of “massaging” of the facts, economies of the truth and non compliance with the Units of Measurement Regulations then that’s fine.


  11. The sad fact is that we have a circular feedback loop here where the muddle created by the lack of vision and fortitude of successive UK governments then becomes a pretext for the media to perpetuate the muddle, which bolsters the government’s claim that the UK public is not “ready” for full metrication (and gives an opening to UKIP and their ilk to conflate metrication with kowtowing to Brussels), which in turn continues to give the media a “reason” to perpetuate the use of Imperial in their news stories, etc.

    Time for someone to cut the Gordian knot, convert road signs to metric, require that all advertising (even so-called “descriptive” ones) be done exclusively in metric, have the NHS and other medical providers use metric only (even with their patients), and require that all retailers and sellers post their signs in metric only.

    Such courageous and sensible policies on the part of the government would rapidly change the attitudes of nearly all Britons that SI is a perfectly proper, appropriate, and above all eminently understandable system of measurement to be used exclusively in all walks of life.

    (Then over on this side of The Pond we can say to our government: “Well, if the Brits can do it, by golly, so can we Yanks!” 😉


  12. The BBC style guide doesn’t appear to actually mean much to its writers; I was reading a story about the Russia-Ukraine conflict ( halfway down the page it says:

    “…referring to the area around Slovyanoserbsk, 32km (20m) north-west of Luhansk…”

    so that’s 32 kilometres or 20 metres? The BBC style guide explicitly says that miles should be typed in full as there’s no acceptable abbreviation. I do understand why miles are used in the news for UK readers – I would have to concede that, for now, they’re better understood by more people than kilometres – and it’s good that the metric figure came first, but don’t follow the DfT’s lead and use the wrong symbol for miles! Imagine how confused a non-Brit may be reading that not knowing that some road signs inexplicably use “m” for miles here.


  13. I was listening to a TV programme about parcel delivery in UK a couple of nights ago. Distances between depot and towns was mentioned in km rather than miles.
    Now we all know that the sat nav is getting pretty close to universal in the professional driver field; what we do not know is how many of these are set to miles and how many are set to km. I personally have mine set to km, I find it much easier when information is given in consistent units rather than changing between awkwardly related miles, yards and feet.
    The thought that a UK national parcel delivery chain uses km on UK roads would seem to blow a big hole in the often quoted ‘everyone has to use miles on roads’ because that is what is on the road signs.
    I had never given this much thought before, realistically, how much (or little) distance information do these signs give us that is not supplemented by, or overridden by, the sat nav? How many professional drivers, or national transport companies use their sat navs in metric? Do the road signs matter that much anyway? We know the count down markers and other ‘yard marked’ signs are arbitrarily in yards or metres, the speed signs are just matching numbers with the speedo numbers. I doubt if most people would even notice if the signs were changed.


  14. Honestly don’t you have other things to do than tell everyone how they should use numbers. i’m sorry but your cause started dying in the 90’s. [This contribution is an attempt at a wind-up by a member of the so called “British Weights and Measures Association” (BWaMA). MetricViews suggests readers should ignore it and not respond – Editor]


  15. Here is today’s ‘BBC speak’ report on the Bournemouth 10 km run.

    Runners taking part in a 10km event were mistakenly sent on a 3km detour after a marshal left their post.
    Organisers believe 300 of the 1,200 competitors went an extra two miles during Sunday’s Bournemouth Bay Run.


  16. Radio 4 was ‘verbally abused’ on their facebook page last night for using metric in a program.
    In the replies there are very few pro Imperial comments, almost all, apart from the original poster, are pro metric.
    I am seeing this more and more these days. Are we turning a corner or is it just wishful thinking?
    This comes at a time when I thought the BBC TV news was going backwards.


  17. @BrianAC
    I suspect you are giving disproportionate weight to the vocal minority and pretending that the silent majority don’t exist.


  18. A.R.M. attempted to reply. This is an invitation only group, not a FB page. As of now, 48 hours after attemting to join, my request is still ‘pending,’ quite similar to my experience with Metric Views. There are long delays, ‘editor’s notes’ for pro-choice, speedy approvals (automatic?) for the metric mandators.

    Why ‘Daniel’ sees fit to see one man’s post, to a FB group as some sort of ‘news story’ and disseminate it widely about the internet is as confusing to us as the seeming significance given to one man concocting the name ‘Archie’ for 1,000-metre peaks after failing to attain membership into the far-more-notable ‘Mile High Club.’


  19. Charlie P says: 2015-08-13 at 12:45 @BrianAC
    I suspect you are giving disproportionate weight to the vocal minority and pretending that the silent majority don’t exist.

    So it is wishful thinking, that is what I thought.


  20. @Charlie P says: 2015-08-13 at 12:45
    ****I suspect you are giving disproportionate weight to the vocal minority and pretending that the silent majority don’t exist.****

    It is interesting to note that in November 2014, UKIP member Jill Seymour MEP, started a petition on to “Abandon Plans to move to Metric Measurement”.
    It was in response to the The Department for Transport, having released a report showing that they wish to move to having both Imperial, and Metric measurements on all UK Height and Width signs.

    Of the millions of road users (ie.. cyclists, pedestrians, HGV drivers, motorists, etc) throughout the UK, and exposure on both the BWMA, and ARM Facebook sites, the petition could only raise 312 supporters.

    Yes there is a silent majority. They were silent in supporting “Abandon Plans to move to Metric Measurements”..

    Speaks for millions doesn’t it.


  21. Indeed, how many signatures would you expect from a minor MP, no media coverage of the petition, and no letter-writing campaign? Let us compare 312 signatures to a forced-metricator-backed petition:

    >>> http://?epetitions.direc? With the recent criticism our support of the petition to keep the DfT from metricating our road signs, we would like to call our supporters’ attention to this brilliant petition, to make our activities illegal.

    In a strong show of support, the British public delivered a flood of votes – SEVEN – in favour of the petition’s stated aims before it closed.

    Yet meanwhile several hundred signatures in a petition with little promotion is viewed as a failure of our cause to rally supporters.

    With that, we ask, if you have not already done so, to please visit and support our DfT anti-metricatio?n petition. http://?

    illegalise the right for the public to remove or ammend road signs – e-petitions <<<

    'illegalise the right for the public to remove or ammend road signs'. -Did every member of the UKMA turn out to vote for this one?

    Surely, it's hardly very fair to criticise ANY petition when it is clear there was no attempt to promote its existence. We are certain you could have easily broken TEN, had the general public known of this call for groundbreaking legislation: Making the display of illegal, metric signs legal.


  22. Both of the links failed in the above comment. However, considering the lack of support to both petitions it appears that the British public couldn’t really care less about units of measure.

    You might say it’s a yawn to both positions.


  23. Speaking of metric in the media – it is interesting that I have heard multiple radio adverts this morning which refer to the time it takes a car to go from 0-62mph. Is it just me or does this sound suspiciously like 0-100km/h?

    Even people who are pro-imperial should admit that 62 is a very silly number to use that people would have trouble relating to. These tests are obviously done in metric conditions and hence it would make much more sense just to quote the figures of 0-100km/h.

    There seems to be no issue with emissions data being in g/km so this shouldn’t be a problem – and whilst we’re at it, let’s get rid of mpg as nobody under the age of about 50 has any idea of how big a gallon is; L/100km or km/L are already on car adverts so just rid us of the non-sensical mpg.


  24. @Charlie
    Yes 62 mph is used quite a lot, it is 100km/h.
    I have also noticed others. The standing mile or flying mile sometimes includes the km figure, which one they optimise for is open to question.
    The big dafty though is the D(a)fT motorcycle test track costing the taxpayer millions of pounds just so the test can be performed at 31 mph (50 km/h), which is over the UK speed limit.


  25. What bothers me more about the 50 km/h requirement for the motorcycle test is that almost all speedos, even on new vehicles, have a failing in their accuracy anyway and thanks to various laws regarding vehicle construction and manufacturers erring on the side of caution a vehicle where the speedo reads 30 MHP may actually only be doing as low as 27 MPH anyway.

    Add to this the fact that many police forces still allow a little leeway ( the “10%+2” formula, though apparently some in Scotland may be stopping this) and it seems to me that this whole thing is just an expensive farce and a little common sense from law makers would have prevented any of this happening. It’s almost as if some jobsworth civil servant or politician was trying to make a point at the taxpayers expense.


  26. @Martin Vlietstra
    I can’t see anything in that link about a 50 km/h requirement.

    Also do we have any evidence at all that public roads would have been used for the slow-speed manoeuvres (figure-of-eight, slalom, hazard avoidance, etc.) motorcycle practical riding test module 1, that the specially designed safe off-road motorcycle manoeuvring areas are designed for, if there were metric speed limits in place on public roads? If the normal public roads were used for this module, they would have to be closed to normal traffic whilst the circuits and their hazards were set-up, remain closed during the tests, and not open again until the special apparatus was again removed. How could that ever be a good idea – or is it another metrication myth?

    Of course, for the module 2 of the test, for which no special apparatus or circuits are required, public roads are used, as for car driving tests.


  27. @Martin Vliestra

    It’s stupid that the DfT did not seek any kind of derogation for the test to be completed at 30mph (48.2km/h) – considering the UK has a special derogation to use ancient units on road signs, I don’t think this would be refused.

    Though the more sensible solution would, of course, be to just metricate as soon as reasonably possible.


  28. @Active Resistance to Metrication says:
    2015-08-14 at 15:53
    ****Indeed, how many signatures would you expect from a minor MP, no media coverage of the petition, and no letter-writing campaign?****
    ****Surely, it’s hardly very fair to criticise ANY petition when it is clear there was no attempt to promote its existence.****

    The fact is, that although one could regard Mrs Seymour a “minor MP” ( actually MEP) in name, she is the spokesperson for transport matters within UKIP. A political party, that although not a major party, is also not an insignificant party. A party, that gained almost 4 million votes, in the last General Election, but could only gain 312 supporters for a “Abandon Plans to Move to Metric Measurements” online petition.

    Also the petition was launched one or two days after the mainstream media had printed articles, regarding the move to dual height and width signs. On the 2014-11-09 Mrs Seymour was on BBC Radio Five Live, to discuss the metrication of road signs.

    One could not say that there was no attempt to promote its existence.

    However, the result of 312 supporters, can only be described as disappointing. It like many other petitions, for, or against, metrication, fail to gain large number of supporters.
    It’s shows that most have no real concern about metric measures, or Imperial measures, at least, until it directly concerns them. This is why when the inevitable eventually happens, and road signs are metricated, there will be only minor concern to the change.


  29. I was surprised to see a video clip today on the BBC news web site giving hot temperatuers in the USA in both Celsius and Fahrenheit temperatures. So, I did some poking around online and discovered that weather reports in the UK seem to use Celsius exclusively (except for one reference to Fahrenheit in parentheses after Celsius in the Daily Mirror).

    I suspect the BBC reported temperatures in both Celsius (first) and Fahrenheit because they wanted the American viewers of the clip to understand the temperatures since the story was about the heat wave in the American Southwest.

    In any case the good news seems to be that Fahrenheit has been almost completely pushed aside in the British media in favor of Celsius. A ray of hope despite the muddle!


  30. I am very disappointed at the new BBC ‘Planet Earth II’, which got rave reviews and I was looking forward to watching it.
    My viewing lasted 6 minutes and 42 seconds before I stopped in disgust. I may continue recording it, but doubt if I will ever watch it again.
    Maybe I am getting over critical in my old age, but I just cannot be bothered with trying to convert and work out what the media are saying, no matter how pretty the pictures.
    The first problem came with the fifth word just 12 seconds into the programme, MILES. OK, so millions of pounds per episode in the making and it is aimed at just 3% of the world population? Sorry Australia, NZ, SA, India, Malta, Ireland, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Gibraltar and every other country on planet earth, get lost, you get it like what the Beeb have spoked.
    The turn off was at 6 min 42 seconds … a group of islands ‘about the size of New York central Park’ I think it was. Quick as a flash then, Americans included, raise your hand if you just happen to know the size of NY central park!! I don’t even have a clue as to the size of Hyde Park, or of my local park for that matter. Fair enough, if I don’t know the latter of those, even though there is a plaque giving it’s size in hectares, I don’t remember on this day is down to me. I see no point in referencing an unknown area with another unknown area! At least with hectares or square km the vast majority of the world would stand a chance. Even a consistent miles would have been miles better.

    Editor. I too lost interest fairly early on when I heard that “the Komodo dragon was ten feet long and weighed 150 pounds.” Later we were told that marine iguanas could “dive to a depth of 30 metres”, but then learned that the penguins went fishing “50 miles off shore.” Clearly the BBC is following the Government lead in expecting us to be familiar with two measurement systems.


  31. @BrianAC:

    Deleting the remaining episodes unwatched and, presumably, continuing to pay your subscription fee—that’ll really learn ’em! They will be quaking in their patent leather moccasins up on the seventh floor (or WHY) of Broadcasting House ;-).

    If you sent the series to me, I’d be tempted to release bootleg copies amateurishly re-dubbed into metric as a public service…

    p.s. Just watched Lightning: Dangerous Earth on BBC FOUR which was metric throughout, albeit some short/ long billion ambiguity. But, equally, all the recent Brian Cox works have been made unwatchably imperial. It’s probably what they try to pass off as `balance’.


  32. Mark Williams says: 2016-11-27 at 17:38

    Rather a strange post from you good self. Sorry if I seem a little terse on this point, but I have always seen BBC as being free to air, as are all 95 DTT television channels (apart from the licence fee, which I won’t have to pay either in a few years). I no longer use VHS tapes and disk storage is just a few pence/Gib. As you imply, it will do the BBC no harm whatsoever if I never watch them, conversely, it will not dent my budget too much when I store them on my 16 Tib server for the rest of my years either. As they are free to air I doubt if they have a lot of value to piracy risk offset. Their money, my choice.
    Unfortunately TV is pretty much a no go for me now due to this anti metric issue. And no, I am not just spiting myself, there are other pastimes in life. A waste of my nice new 4k TV though!
    I totally agree with you about Brian Cox, a big let down and totally unwatchable.


  33. Apologies for the strange comment. Non-UK readers might not be aware that the licence fee is a form of compulsory household taxation here for watching TV. You should see the nasty threatening letters they send to a [TV-less] second home falsely accusing us of criminally abstracting their content! I won’t pay twice just to be hectored by the BBC’s anti-metric agenda and all the much heavier divisiveness in its output. Entertaining, educational or informative it no longer is, for the most part.

    Yes, not watching those episodes will not harm BBC. Nor is it likely to come to the attention of the programme makers or give them cause to re-consider their decision(s) in future. Alternative soundtracks which the majority of the home audience (who provide most of their income stream) can understand, might just make them sit up and take note…


  34. With avian flu back in UK we are once again faced with our stupid measurement muddle. The BBC, and I guess the rest of the media will follow, just cannot accept our metric transition.
    This is the quote from BBC on line news ” … A 1.8 mile (3km) protection zone has been set up around the farm.”

    Now it is pretty obvious which of those two figures are the ‘real facts’ and which the ‘alternative’ facts, just what is the media’s’ problem? At the very least the real facts should come first, of that there can surely be no argument. The Guardian says “A 3km (1.8 mile) protection zone and a 10km (6.2 mile) surveillance zone had been put in place around both infected premises to limit the risk of the disease spreading.”
    The real facts “Defra said a 3km protection zone and a 10km surveillance zone had been put in place around the infected premises to limit the risk of the disease spreading”

    These are UK figures, UK facts, UK government facts, the protection zone is 3 km. This is not from some far flung foreign land. BBC grow up and get with the programme.


  35. Extract from BBC Style Guide for Weights and measures:
    “We should use both imperial and metric measures in most stories. Context will usually decide which measure comes first, but if the first figure is part of a quote it should be retained, with a conversion in brackets immediately afterwards.”
    And then the muddled mess of contradiction,
    “UK and US stories should usually use imperial first.”
    Well, US maybe but the UK, surely no longer so?
    Either way, when it is the UK government then the context rule surely applies?


  36. Just go metric and all the little problems will go away. Here in New Zealand it’s done, even the older generation speak metric some of the time.

    What really gets me is when an approximate measure is translated to an exact one, so a tree is 30′ (9.14m), the elephant weighed 5 tons (5.09 tonnes) and the park is 3 acres (1.22 hectares). Fine if the tree was exactly 30′ but silly if it was actually 29’6″ which is then 8.99m but still within our approximation of 30′. Why can’t the media use approximates with approximates? The tree was 9m high (even 10m high is OK), the elephant weighed 5 tonnes and the park was 1.2 ha.


  37. @ kiwi-ian says: 2017-09-13 at 04:17
    Totally correct, the more annoying thing is that it seems not to happen when they convert from metric to Imperial, possibly because 10 m converted to ‘thirty two feet, nine and seven tenths inches’ would not only sound utterly stupid they could not do it on whatever app they normally use.


  38. @ Kiwi-ian

    The way units are translated is via computer software and not manually by humans. The end results all depend on the how the rounding programmed in. In some cases it may originate in metric as 5 t, 1.2 ha, 9 m, etc and when converted to USC by the Americans, the results are always rounded to whole numbers. Then if these heavily round values are back converted to metric, they are converted to numbers that don’t match the original metric values. 10 mm –> 3/8 in –> 9.5 mm.

    The only way to know the truth is to measure everything yourself, but that isn’t always possible.


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