This takes me on to the nonsense frequently repeated by the BBC and other media organisations about audiences for events such as royal weddings, American presidential inaugurations, and major sports.
Take the current claim in news bulletins that the opening of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow was watched by "up to (or more than) a billion people". How could that be? It's impossible.
Over the years, several ex-BBC editors, including myself, have challenged the "wet finger" calculation of figures, with no apparent effect. Among the most vociferous objectors is a former BBC senior manager and colleague, Graham Mytton, who is an internationally-recognised expert on audience figures. I am taking the liberty to quote from a Facebook entry he made earlier today about a BBC claim that the Commonwealth Games had an audience of more than one billion:
Does it matter that the audience figures are inflated? Will anyone care? Well, they should care because the BBC has built up over several decades an international reputation for accuracy. This should apply to every aspect of a story. If it plays fast and loose with figures for such things as business losses and audience figures, what else is considered too good to check?
UPDATE: On the same subject, this article is worth reading. It denounces the extraordinary claims for the TV audiences for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton: