BBC fires UK government's Meterological Office, opens up weather prediction to global firms

It's a complex story -- partly about the Beeb facing privatisation and being required to bid out its work; partly about the Met having made some spectacular recent blunders in providing the weather.

The Met could conceivably win the open bid. Without it, it will lost the majority of its revenue and could conceivably fold.

But the Beeb and the Met have been joined at the hip for 93 years, so it's a major shift. One commentator -- a former culture secretary -- quoted in the Guardian story talks about the Met having a public safety role for "extreme weather/crisis events/national defence."

More, bidding out to private companies raises the spectre of companies like Atos, the French giant whose incompetent and even fraudulent management of the disability eligibility evaluation has been the source of ghastly news stories and untold human suffering since it lowballed its contract.

A new provider is expected to take over in the next year. Dutch and New Zealand firms are said to be in the running for the contract, which is believed to make up a sizeable share of the £32.5m the Met Office receives annually from commercial organisations, according to the Mail on Sunday.

The Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen told the newspaper: “Everybody understands the BBC has to cut costs. But the public will need to be convinced the new forecaster can accurately predict the fickleness of the British weather, especially if it’s a foreign provider.”

Met Office loses BBC weather forecasting contract after 93 years [Nadia Khomami and Kevin Rawlinson/The Guardian]

(via /.)