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British TV Show Blasted for Y2k Panic Mongering

NewsBytes 05-FEB-99

LONDON, ENGLAND, 1999 FEB 5 (Newsbytes) -- By Steve Gold, Newsbytes.

Viewers to the "This Morning with Richard & Judy" show on TV Thursday morning were treated to the first sight of a doomsayer of the Year 2000 problem on British TV screens.

[Richard and Judy are akin to Regis and K.Lee, God help us all :) - Andy]

As a result of the program, in which a former computer programmer was shown with his family detailing their plans to cope with society's breakdown after the Year 2000 problem had wrought havoc on information technology (IT) systems around the world, the Action 2000 hotline was busy with calls from worried viewers.

The Action 2000 hotline is a service provided by Action 2000, the British government-funded agency to publicize the Y2K issue.

Although meant to be a lighthearted look at how Jeremy Perron and his family are preparing for a Y2K armageddon in a remote part of Scotland, the program caused some viewers to be panic-stricken about what they saw.

Action 2000 has confirmed that, in the wake of the TV program, its Year 2000 helpline was swamped with around two thousand callers worried about the show.

Gwynneth Flower, the director of Action 2000, has called the program segment the most irresponsible and dangerous journalism she had yet seen on the Year 2000 issue.

"Against a background of inaccurate and ill-informed journalism, this is the worst yet," she noted, adding that the only reason for people to panic is if the likes of Richard and Judy scare them into it.

"We were worried about the bug biting early, but it has clearly bitten them in the head," she is quoted as saying in today's media.

Newsbytes notes that the British TV program is a reflection of the fact that the Year 2000 is now reaching the mainstream public consciousness.

As reported by Newsbytes earlier this week, Robin Guenier, the executive director of Taskforce 2000, the industry-funded Y2K agency, and a highly respected figure in the Year 2000 industry, said that, contrary to received wisdom, big business in the UK is lagging in its efforts to fix the Y2K problem.

In a speech given in London late last week, Guenier noted that large businesses said in 1996 that the job would be complete.

There were, he said, good reasons for this -- "not least, the need to run their new systems in the real world throughout 1999 so as to go into 2000 with complete confidence that they were fully robust," he explained, adding that he knows of no large business that achieved that situation today. "Indeed, most of those that are making good progress tell me that the job is considerably more difficult and is taking much longer than they expected," he explained.

Commenting on the Richard and Judy TV program today, Guenier told Newsbytes that, while he had missed the program itself, he had heard about it, and was aware of Jeremy Perron, who he said has been getting some TV coverage in recent times.

"Action 2000 is making a fuss about the program and its trivialization of the Year 2000 problem, but I'm afraid it is partly their own doing. The government and Action 2000 has been trivializing the whole Y2K issue, with a cartoon portraying the Millennium Bug," he said.

"The problem has been that, in trivializing the issue, it makes the problem appear less serious than it actually is. It's a very serious issue and one that needs to be taken very seriously by businesses," he said.

Reported by Newsbytes News Network, .

(19990205/Press Contact: Action 2000 +44-171-215-2000; Taskforce 2000 +44-870-240-0301/WIRES NETWORK, PC/Y2KBUG/PHOTO)

-- Andy (, February 06, 1999


Since the US powers-that-be have started talking about "over-" and "needless and frivolous" stockpiling and "fearmongering" (Senate Y2K committee hearings yesterday), I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the current US trivialization of Y2K backfire in just the same way. That not-quite-so-funny joke about "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you" has a firm basis in fact.

-- Old Git (, February 06, 1999.

Andy have you heard of any JoAnne effect problems? I have been watching different areas however I haven't seen much yet.Tman...

-- Tman (, February 07, 1999.

Tman - not too many yey - I've been monitoring csy2k on this - I expect them to accelerate as the year progresses - there is another thread on this somewhere recently from the Gartner group posted by a.

They expect significant problems in the last 6 months of 99.

Cheers, Andy

-- Andy (, February 07, 1999.

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