The BBC's Roman Numerals

I’ve always been curious why the copyright dates at the end of BBC programmes are written in Roman numerals. Here’s an answer:

The film industry has used them perhaps since its inception to denote the year a film was made, so that it could be redistributed later either locally or to a foreign country with many not knowing the wiser; this became more useful when films were broadcast on television to prevent people from reacting against an older film. From this came the policy of the broadcasting industry, including the BBC, to use them to denote the year in which a television program was made (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation has largely stopped this practice but still occasionally lapses).

If that really is the reason, I reckon it’s time for a rethink… doesn’t it seem silly to mask this information? The BBC use Roman numerals for copyright statements on the web too — consistancy is a good thing, but it seems a bit fusty.

I suppose to those with decent EPGs and chunks of programme meta-data available at the touch of a remote, this little whinge seems rather quaint — “Look! They have to wait ‘till the end of a programme to find out when it was made, then translate the date from some weird arcane number system!”