I have what is kind of good news! The Strictly Spoiler is back on Facebook! If you weren’t already aware of why The Strictly Spoiler vanished from Facebook you can check out this post which details exactly what happened!
The BBC actually responded to my email I sent them after the Facebook page got taken down and agreed to reinstate the page. I’m not going to publicise their response in full but there is a few things I have to report on from their response.
- As suspected this was not remotely about Trademark but about the activities of this site and the associated social network pages. My email to the BBC spent several paragraphs addressing their supposed trademark issues and detailing numerous reasons why I was not in breach of their trademarks. The BBC’s response spent two short paragraphs discussing trademark before moving on to, and spending far more time discussing, what the crux of this matter is about: the fact the page was posting the results before the results show
- The BBC spent a significant amount of their response talking about something this site said about where the spoiler comes from which was previously quoted as being through a network of audience moles with audience tickets to the show. The BBC (correctly) claim that audience members are requested not to disclose the results during the recording of the show in order to preserve “the dramatic experience” of the announcement of the results as though it were live
- The BBC have requested that I refrain from posting the results either here or on any social network accounts under my control with a thinly veiled threat that they may revisit this issue in the future should they consider it necessary to do so.
So what is my position now? Well it is as follows
The fact that the BBC spent so little of their response addressing what was supposedly a trademark dispute has confirmed what I already knew. The BBC have no issue with the use of “Strictly” or “Strictly Come Dancing” but have an issue with the results leaking. Indeed the BBC state that they “encourage discussion about the show” including on various Facebook pages or groups which goes some way to explaining why other groups/pages that do infringe on BBC trademarks remained after my page was removed.
I need to make a couple of things perfectly clear from the offset. Firstly with regards where the spoiler comes from each week. I source the spoiler from other websites, discussion forums or social networking. The vast majority of the time the spoiler comes from a spoiler thread on a forum I visit. This has been discussed before both here and on the forum in question and I make no secret of this although I have now clarified this further in the about page of this site. As such the spoiler is already in the public domain prior to my posting it here and I am merely disseminating information that is already readily available elsewhere online if you know where to look. Furthermore whilst audience members are “requested” not to divulge the results prior to the results show this is merely a request and there is no obligation to honour this request. Audience members are not required to sign a non disclosure agreement nor is secrecy demanded as a term of entry.
Putting aside the thinly veiled threat which basically boils down to the BBC saying you can have your page back but if you continue to post results before the results show we may take it off you again, there is not even a question of me stopping doing this. When I first started to do this it was purely a bit of fun as I found it ridiculous that the BBC would think it would be a good idea to record results in front of an audience a full day before broadcasting them and then expecting them to stay secret in a day and age when information can be transmitted globally in the blink of an eye. This hasn’t changed and the fact that this issue with Facebook occurred means I now have the BBC’s attention which could lead to what I (and many visitors to this site) want to happen which is a live results show. The fact remains that the BBC could stop the results leaking out in a heartbeat by simply reverting to a live results show. And despite the fact that I would suffer a drop in traffic to this site as a result and therefore a drop in income this would still make me very happy.
Even if the BBC didn’t revert to a live results I still feel that there is room to simply accept the situation and tolerate what I do. The BBC raised a concern that by posting the results this prevents license fee payers from enjoying the results show as though it were live. However there are several license fee payers that don’t want to wait for the results show, myself included. However I accept this is a minority. Last weekend this website received visits from approximately 60,000 individual visitors. The results show receives close to 11,000,000 viewers. This site really isn’t impacting on license fee payers enjoying the results show. Indeed many of this site’s visitors, myself included, still watch the results show despite already knowing the results. The BBC in their response stated that they could clearly see that I am an avid fan of Strictly Come Dancing and that is true. I enjoy the show, I look forward to the winter months when it is on the air and long may the series continue. And as someone who loves the show, if I thought that what I was doing was damaging the show in any way for one minute then I would stop doing it.
Additionally I am extremely considerate towards people who don’t want to view the spoiler allowing those who want to wait for the results to enjoy the results show as though it is live. Despite being very active on social media it is very hard for someone seeing my posts who doesn’t want to be spoiled to be spoiled by me directly. All my social media posts take the form of a link to this site which people can make a choice whether to click on or not. This policy is very similar to my source’s policy where they repeatedly ask people not to discuss the spoiler outside the specific spoiler thread on the forum in question. Yes you are always going to get one or two idiots posting the spoiler publicly on official pages/hashtags like the person operating on twitter using the same name as this site but these are a minority and I do my hardest to ensure that despite posting a spoiler on social networking, it isn’t viewed by anyone who doesn’t want to see it. There is no reason why two groups of Strictly fans, those who want to wait and those who don’t can’t exist at the same time without causing issues for each other. I would also submit that it is the people posting the results publicly to social media such as the person referred to earlier on Twitter that the BBC should be targeting and not someone who is considerate of all Strictly viewers and only posts the spoiler in the form of a clearly labelled link.
Which leads me on to the next thing. Once the spoiler comes in, one thing that people invariably want to do is talk about it. Now that talk can be publicly on Facebook or Twitter which causes problems for all. Or there can be a dedicated place for people to discuss the spoiler. Both this site and the Facebook page are clear places where people can discuss the spoiler without worrying about spoiling it for someone who doesn’t want to be spoiled. Anyone who doesn’t want to be spoiled who visits a Facebook page or website called The Strictly Spoiler obviously knows (or should know) what they are getting into. And isn’t it far better that those Strictly fans who don’t want to wait for the results have somewhere dedicated to discuss the spoiler rather than discussing it openly for all to see.
Let’s not also forget the TV spoilers are hardly a new thing. It’s hard to go a week without some newspaper reporting on spoilers for shows like Game of Thrones such as people who are dead but actually aren’t! Or upcoming soap plot lines including Eastenders. What this site does is little different. And again this comes to the whole two groups of viewers thing. Those who like to read spoilers so they have some idea of what to expect from an episode and those who go in blind. As long as the people who view the spoilers are considerate and don’t go around telling everyone what they have read then no harm is done and both groups of people still get to enjoy the show.
It’s my hope that the BBC will see that this site and its social media channels aren’t actually doing any harm to them or indeed the Strictly Come Dancing brand. They’re providing a service to those who want to read spoilers allowing them to enjoy the results show in the way they want to whilst still keeping the results away from those who want to wait and go in blind. They’re also giving people who have read the spoilers somewhere where they are free to discuss them without upsetting anyone. Maintaining the status quo satisfies both types of viewer all of whom pay the license fee to fund the BBC and all of whom have the right to enjoy the content the BBC produces in whatever way they prefer.
I really want to continue to do this for as long as the BBC chooses to pre record the results show. Among other things it’s my way of protesting a decision which I find ludicrous in this day and age. However I also don’t want to be constantly looking over my shoulder worrying the BBC are going to take action against me or the content I put on social media. I have enough to worry about at the moment as it is and I have also made my feelings on the BBC taking action against me quite clear and have made it clear that I feel it amounts to censorship from a public body. Many visitors to this site agree. I can, and I will, make waves should the BBC consider it necessary to censor me again, after all I have a large enough audience to do so, however I hope this does not become the case. See I can do thinly veiled threats too!
Apologies for the length of this post which has turned into an open letter to the BBC. I’m sure there’s about 10 of you reading this far anyway 4 of whom work for the BBC!
No complaints to the BBC. I’m extending an olive branch here. Now let’s hope they take it!