More than a few eyebrows were raised this week when it became apparent that unlike BBC, RTE, ZDF or AVRO, no Portuguese television station was to air a repeat of the Crimewatch programme which was first shown to millions of viewers on Monday evening.
by Brendan de Beer
Conflicting reports were emerging this week as to why Portuguese television had not followed the example of the UK, Ireland, Germany and Netherlands by showing the appeal for information in the search for missing British toddler Madeleine McCann.
One BBC reporter reporting from Praia da Luz on Monday evening told viewers the fact that the programme was not being shown in Portugal was “controversial”, while BBC Radio 4 quoted experts saying they regretted that new leads could be hampered by the fact that there are no plans to show the fresh appeal for information in Portugal.
“We need to get [the Portuguese police] to show the appeal, set aside their political differences, set aside their pride and get to the position where [the forces] are both focused, working together”, criminologist, ex-police officer and child protection expert Mark Williams-Thomas was quoted as telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this week.
His comments were then widely re-printed in a number of publications, including the Guardian.
When questioned as to the reasons for Crimewatch not being shown in Portugal, the Metropolitan Police Service responded that there is no such show in Portugal, while the UK, Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands have regular television programmes appealing for viewers’ assistance in solving crime.
Portuguese police would therefore be unable to force any of the country’s networks to alter scheduling unless they unilaterally decided to do so.
Clips of the programme are available from the Metropolitan Police Service’s Press Bureau and have been shown on Portuguese television this week.
The BBC, in response to questions from The Portugal News over Crimewatch failing to make it on to the television screens of viewers in the country where Madeleine McCann disappeared, explained: “We have provided clips of the Crimewatch programme to international broadcasters to assist them in their coverage of the appeal, and the Crimewatch film is available on the BBC Crimewatch website to international audiences.
“The decision on broadcasting an appeal on an equivalent programme in Portugal is a matter for the Portuguese broadcasters, Portuguese police and The Metropolitan Police”, the statement read.
The Deputy Director of News at SIC Television was meanwhile reported to have exchanged e-mails with the BBC in the days running up to the Crimewatch programme in order to secure the rights to the full programme, but to no avail.
“The BBC said they are not selling the rights”, Martim Cabral told The Portugal News, “therefore we cannot show it.”
Another Portuguese news channel, TVI, told The Portugal News that it had contacted the British national broadcaster prior to the airing of the show, as it sought to “acquire the programme for Portugal, which was denied.”
“Should the BBC change its position and should TVI continue to show an interest, it is certain that we will look at transmitting the programme in question.
“TVI has also requested the BBC to clarify this situation with British media to avoid more erroneous interpretations, such as those claiming Portuguese television channels are not interested in transmitting the programme.”
in The Portugal News, October 17, 2013