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How is BrandRossGate Panning Out Online?

Henry Elliss
Henry Elliss
Managing Director
31 October 2008

Brand460_1015596c Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few days (or perhaps you gave up and set all your RSS feeds to ‘Crunch-related-only’?) you’ll doubtless know that there’s a bit of a furore going on over at the BBC about some comments that Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand made on the latter’s radio show, in answer-phone messages to Fawlty Towers* actor Andrew Sachs. I won’t go in to detail about the content, or indeed my own opinion on the mess – you can find quite a good summary here. What I am quite interested in seeing is how the average social networker is reacting to it online…

As with any ‘public outcry’ type of situation, there are bound to be people for and against the decision (the decision in this case being for Brand to quit his Radio 2 show, and Ross to be suspended from broadcasting for 12 weeks). However, unless I’m missing something here, almost all of the groups that are being set up are in support of Brand and Ross, with a few small exceptions. So have the BBC over-reacted?

The big players in terms of groups so far seem to be:

SUPPORT RUSSELL BRAND & JONATHAN ROSS – 15,702 members
Reinstate Ross and Brand – Need over 18, 000 to join – 6,111 members
Don’t let the BBC sack Russell Brand & Jonathon Ross – 4,855 members
Don’t sack Jonathan Ross & Russell Brand, Comic Legends!!! – 4,741 members
Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross should be reinstated!!! – 2,630 members
Save Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross - 1,952 members
GIVE [...] BRAND & [...] ROSS A BREAK AND TAKE A JOKE!! – 1,667 members
Boycott the BBC until Johnathan Ross and Russell Brand are back on air! – 1,409 members
Save Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand – 1,126 members
Dont Sack Jo
hnathon Ross or Russell Brand!
– 1,118 members
… and over 30 other groups

And the big players in the "anti" groups so far:

Sack Jonathon Ross and Russell Brand – 403 members
I think BBC should sack £6m a year [...] Ross and £200k [...] Brand – 207 members
F*** Brand And Ross!! Andrew Sachs is a legend!!!- 183 members
Sack Johnathon Ross and Russell Brand – 114 members
Sack Ross and Brand……….. – 6 members
DONT LET [...] BRAND & [...] ROSS ANY WHERE NEAR A TV OR RADIO – 1 member
… and around 10 other groups, with less than 100 members

Aside from highlighting some small issues with Facebook’s groups system (a) the search function is rubbish, and b) people need to check for duplicate groups before starting new ones!) it seems pretty clear that the majority are in support of Brand and Ross. I’ve not included all of them above (I stopped at page 20 of the search results, yet the group with 18,000 members only appeared on page 19!) but at a rough calculation, the numbers are:

In favour of Ross and Brand – over 60,000 people
Against of Ross and Brand –
approx 2,000 people

In addition to that, the number of people that have declared themselves a fan of Brand on his official Facebook fan page has grown to over 120,000 people in the past week.

Perhaps the BBC should be keeping an eye on these group to see how the situation develops over the coming weeks? 20,000-odd people may have complained (despite only 2 people having complained when the show originally aired) but if over 60,000 (and growing) people are in support of the duo, perhaps a bit of balance is needed?

* Is Fawtly Towers really the only thing Sachs has done?!

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