Wed, May 17, 2006 - Page 1 News List

BBC apologizes for interview foul-up


The BBC interviewed the wrong Guy.

The network has apologized to its viewers for a studio mix-up that resulted in a mystery man appearing on live television as Guy Kewney -- an expert on Internet music downloads.

In fact the mystery man was Guy Goma, a Congolese man applying for a technology-related job with the British Broadcasting Corp, who followed an employee to the studio after a mistake at a reception desk, the corporation said late on Monday.

"We interviewed the wrong person," a spokeswoman said on Monday while speaking on condition of anonymity in line with company policy. "We apologize to viewers for any confusion."

The case of mistaken identity occurred on May 8 -- the day Britain's High Court awarded Apple Computer a victory in a lawsuit against Apple Corps, The Beatles' commercial arm.

In a reaction piece following the verdict, BBC News 24 consumer affairs correspondent Karen Bowerman ostensibly welcomed computer expert Kewney.

After she introduced the apparent expert, there was a moment when Goma winced as he was introduced as someone else. He scrunched his face in panic and tried to open his mouth as if to explain.

"Were you surprised by this verdict today?" Bowerman asked.

"I'm very surprised to see the verdict come on me because I was not expecting that," he said in a heavy French accent, blinking in the studio lights. "When I came, they told me something else."

Nonplussed, he pressed on, growing more confident in his punditry as the interview progressed.

He gamely delivered his opinion on the future of music downloads and cyber cafes following the landmark verdict.

Meanwhile, the real Kewney, who was waiting to be taken to the studio, looked up on a monitor and found another man ensconced in the interviewee's chair.

"What would you feel, if while you were sitting in that rather chilly reception area, you suddenly saw yourself not sitting in reception, but live, on TV? A bit surprised?" Kewney wrote on his Web log.

Kewney said on his blog that he was amused at first -- but then considered that viewers would think he did not know his subject, hurting his reputation.

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