Saturday, April 26, 2014

Crying Need to Revamp TV weather bulletins in Cyprus

By Andreas Christodoulou
One of the requests of Cypriot television viewers, which has emerged in the recent public consultation on the role and mission of the CyBC, is "to upgrade the transmission of the television weather bulletins by using graphics and the latest associated technologies while having its presentation given by a (professional) meteorologist in the studio" (from a summary of the results of CyBC’s public consultation - 28.3.14).

In fact, the weather forecast bulletin, as shown by both the CyBC and private TV channels, is very poor in terms of both content and presentation and ill-compares with corresponding weather forecast bulletins both in advanced countries of Europe and North America but also those in many third world countries.

What are the key elements missing from the weather forecast bulletins as shown on TV screens in Cyprus? Without exhausting the list we will mention the following elements necessary for a weather forecast bulletin that meets the daily needs of the Cypriot citizen for comprehensive and complete briefing on their living space.

First, the weather forecast bulletin on Cyprus television screens is lacking an opening synoptic weather summary of the general status of the weather prevailing during the period under review, as recorded and forecast for the region of SE Europe and the Middle East. The synoptic weather situation describes the distribution of atmospheric pressure at sea level, the weather systems - areas of low and high pressure - the existence of warm or cold fronts, areas rainfall, direction and strength of winds, status of the sea in the wider region etc.

How To... Decode A Weather Forecast - The Great British Weath 
Second, the description of the synoptic weather situation must be accompanied by a relevant map in which the main weather parameters, for the period under review are recorded, as mentioned above. Also, approaching or developing precipitation areas (of rain, sleet or snow) could be appropriately displayed using relevant radar scans.

How to read synoptic weather charts
Third, regarding the weather forecast on the surface of the island of Cyprus graphics should be given for the main towns and major rural stations (e.g. the Troodos square or Mount Olympus) with parameters such as minimum and maximum temperatures, probability of precipitation (%), wind direction/strength, relative humidity (%) and, during the summer months, the Heat Index for major towns and holiday resorts indicating comfort levels for the next day (and for the next three days/five days if available) .

Graphics summarizing weather conditions, including minimum and maximum daily temperatures for the upcoming days, should also be given for major foreign cities where large Cypriot communities exist (London, Athens, New York, Melbourne) and others frequently visited by numerous Cypriots for business or as tourists (Brussels, Paris, Moscow, Dubai, Tokyo).

As seen in the recent public consultation on CyBC future role, Cypriot viewers have already identified the importance of the TV weather forecast bulletin being presented by a professional meteorologist preferably with specialization /experience in the television presentation of weather forecast bulletins.

It should be noted that in many countries the weather presenters are among the most loved television personas because of their knowledge and personality providing viewers with the necessary information while enhancing the general weather literacy of the public (which is extremely low in Cyprus).

The upgrading of television weather forecasts is, in our view, a must for Cyprus TV and is, indeed, long overdue. As in all advanced countries, the Cypriot viewer has the right to have access to the necessary information and analysis by a professional meteorologist of the weather conditions prevailing at the place of his permanent residence as well as in foreign cities he visits, in order to adjust his everyday life and traveling for business or pleasure.

Among other things an attractive TV weather forecast bulletin offers broadcasters a top notch daily audience with associate opportunities to receive adequate financial remuneration in terms of advertising revenue.

Apart from the television weather report, addressed to the general population, there are also important weather bulletins for special publics such as farmers. There could be such a special weekly weather forecast by the public broadcaster, probably within the framework its Sunday television programme “Countryside’s Hour” – “Η Ώρα της Υπαίθρου" (CyBC-1), which would refer to the expected weather conditions for the upcoming week in conjunction with seasonal agricultural tasks and would identify any potential risks to cultivations from weather elements such as frost , hail , strong winds, heavy rains, extremely high temperatures, drought , etc. in order to minimize the damage caused by such adverse weather conditions.

Particularly for the phenomenon of frost, which causes considerable damage to seasonal cultivations such as potatoes, a relevant graphic should be displayed within the framework the main evening TV weather bulletin, whenever necessary during the winter period, indicating areas potentially to be affected.

Finally, for mariners (sailors, fishermen, staff of hydrocarbons’ exploration or extraction riggs, etc) a special weather bulletin (Shipping forecast) could be transmitted on a radio frequency of the public broadcaster (CyBC). Such a bulletin would provide, inter alia, information such as wind strength/ direction, visibility and the state of the sea surface in maritime areas surrounding Cyprus during the period under review and give timely warning for any extreme weather phenomena at sea.

We submit the above suggestions with the certainty that they will be seriously considered by policy makers in both the public broadcaster (CyBC) and local private broadcasters. At the same time, we would like to stress the importance for close co-operation of local broadcasters with the Department of Meteorology of the Ministry of Agriculture and Environment for the achievement of the important goal of upgrading weather bulletins in Cyprus broadcast media.

Andreas Christodoulou
Communications - Media Expert 

April 2014

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