FUW welcomes BBC Trust report on rural reporting

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27/06/2014 11:39

The Farmers' Union of Wales has welcomed a BBC Trust report which highlights significant shortcomings in the way rural issues are reported.


The report, which follows a review of the impartiality of the BBC's rural affairs reporting, found that health, education and employment issues in rural areas were rarely covered, with the corporation preferring to focus on 'fluffy' images of the countryside, and an over emphasis on environmental issues.


However, reporting in the devolved regions, including in Wales, was found to be far more representative and show a depth and breadth of understanding of rural areas and rural lives.


FUW policy director Nick Fenwick, who gave evidence to the review, said: "There was a strong feeling amongst Welsh rural organisations that coverage by BBC Wales and BBC Cymru was far more focussed on the realities of the countryside, whereas UK reporting tended to be biased in favour of urban, middle class views.


"It is interesting that similar conclusions were reached by the trust following interviews in other devolved regions."


The report also highlights a failure to adequately reflect the impact of bovine TB on farmers, with an over-emphasis on the emotional response of anti-badger cull protesters and 'fluffy badgers' which audiences believed was never going to result in an impartial impression.


The report states that: "The predominant use of images of healthy badgers to open or conclude a report was felt to weight the argument in favour of the anti-cull lobby. People asked where were the pictures of sick badgers with TB, or infected cows being shot, or a distraught farming family coming to terms with the loss of their animals."


Dr Fenwick said that the BBC Trust's findings were extremely welcome, and that the BBC should now work to change the 'fluffy' urban bias which exists, particularly in reporting by the BBC's UK networks.


"Those responsible for the BBC's UK broadcasts have a great deal to learn from Radio Cymru and Radio Wales in terms of being more connected with rural areas and reporting the realities of issues such as bovine TB.


"At the moment, the naïve and stereotypical view that our rural areas are no more than wildlife parks for urban visitors seems to dominate UK reporting" added Dr Fenwick.

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