BBC is so divorced from rural life it thinks The Archers is

By on September 25, 2019

first_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Chris Packham stars on Springwatch alongside Martin Hughes-Games and Michaela StrachanCredit:Jo Charlesworth He also questioned the BBC’s decision not to uphold a complaint about Chris Packham. The presenter was criticised after he called those involved in hunting and shooting “the nasty brigade” and said charities including the RSPB and Wildlife Trust were not speaking out against issues such as fox hunting.Mr Packham’s comments, which were published in his monthly column in BBC Wildlife magazine last year, prompted outrage with some claiming he breached impartiality rules and others saying he should be sacked.The BBC Trust’s standards committee launched an investigation but did not uphold the complaints and said no action was required. In its report, it said this was partly because Mr Packham was a freelancer, not a BBC employee, and was not “associated with news or public policy-related output”. An organisation so long divorced from country life that it thinks The Archers is realIan Coghill The BBC has previously been hit by claims its news coverage fails to reflect the wide range of interests outside the country’s cities and towns. An independent review commissioned by the BBC Trust in 2014 found there was a deficit in UK-wide coverage of rural issues in England, but said on the whole there is a broad and comprehensive range of voices. One popular programme focusing on rural life and environmental issues is Countryfile, which boasts a peak audience of 9.4 million viewers. A BBC spokesman said: “Across television, radio and online we cover a wide range of rural issues from many different perspectives in depth and impartially.”We are delighted so many listeners enjoy The Archers and are sure people appreciate it is a drama rather than a documentary.”center_img Chris Packham stars on Springwatch alongside Martin Hughes-Games and Michaela Strachan The BBC is “institutionally biased against the countryside” and is so out of touch “it thinks the Archers is real”, according to the head of a game conservation charity.Ian Coghill, the chairman of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), alleged the corporation is “as far away from the real countryside as it can get”. He criticised the BBC for regarding programmes about wildlife as nothing to do with policy or current affairs and said those who love country sports, such as shooting and fishing, are getting “increasingly disenchanted” with being treated as a “whipping boy” by some elements of the corporation.  In a blog for the GWCT website, published last month, Mr Coghill criticised the decision and claimed the BBC is “seen by many as institutionally biased against the countryside”.“[It treats] it as one would expect from an organisation so long divorced from country life that it thinks The Archers is real, probably because it is made in Birmingham, which from a London perspective is practically a village,” he wrote.Regarding Mr Packham’s “gratuitously abusive” comments about “perfectly decent country people”, he said many people had “missed the point” as the issue “is, and always was, the BBC”.He called out the corporation for dealing with Mr Packham as a freelance presenter, meaning he does not have to uphold the same impartiality guidelines despite allegedly providing his services to the BBC for 119 days last year.And he claimed the “real scandal” was the fact programmes the presenter is involved in – including Springwatch and its sister programmes Autumnwatch and Winterwatch – are not regarded as news or public-policy related. “The BBC Trust is to be thanked for making it clear where it and the BBC stand,” he wrote. “It turns out to be where we always thought but until now were never really able to confirm: as far away from the real countryside as they can get.”last_img read more

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