LONDON (Reuters) - BBC weather forecasts, closely watched by millions in Britain, will be provided from next year by a private company, replacing the Met Office after 94 years.
The publicly-funded Corporation said on Wednesday that London-based MeteoGroup would take over from next Spring and save the BBC millions of pounds over the next few years.
The seven-year deal would give users a more personalised website and more information both on air and on the BBC weather app, it added.
“This decision will mean we can further modernise our weather forecasting, making the most of new technology and science to bring our audiences an even better service,” BBC Weather procurement project director Nigel Charters said.
The BBC announced last year that the Met Office, Britain’s national weather service which has been supplying its forecasts since 1922, had not made it into final rounds of the tendering process.
MeteoGroup, which already provides forecasts for Sky News and Channel 4 television, is Britain’s largest private sector weather business, with offices in 17 countries around the world. It started out as MeteoConsult in the Netherlands in 1986 and established its London headquarters in 2005.
How its forecasts compare with the Met Office is bound to be closely watched in case of a repeat of famous gaffes like the forecast of a “barbecue Summer” in washout 2009 and the dismissal of rumours of an impending hurricane in 1987 which was promptly followed by one of Britain’s severest storms.
But the BBC said most of its best-known presenters, many of whom are household names in Britain, would be staying on.
It declined to comment on the value of the contract awarded to MeteoGroup.
Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Stephen Addison
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