The UK Republic group has lodged a formal complaint with the BBC Trust over the BBC’s royal wedding coverage, saying it did not reflect the monarchy’s fiercely contested status, with 20 per cent of Britons being republicans.
In the covering letter Republic’s campaign manager Graham Smith says:
“In our view the BBC has breached its legal duty to ‘do all it can to ensure that controversial subjects are treated with due accuracy and impartiality’, ‘ensure a wide range of significant views and perspectives are given due weight and prominence’ and clearly distinguish opinion from fact.”
“The only conclusion we can draw is that the BBC took an editorial decision to ensure coverage of the wedding was overwhelmingly pro-monarchy in tone and in line with the royal household’s public relations strategy.”
The letter also quoted the BBC’s Raymond Snoddy, who has recently said:
“Much of the coverage was fawning and irredeemably trivial … It was an event that was ring-fenced with normally tough journalists asking no questions, certainly not tough questions.”
The complaint includes four pages of evidence, including the shocking figure that less than 2% of all coverage reflected on republicanism despite over 20% of the country supporting the abolition of the monarchy.
Putting this into perspective the document points out that the Liberal Democrat party’s share of the vote at the last local elections was 16 per cent and the entire non-Christian religious population is 5.4 per cent, yet these bodies of opinion are rightly reflected in the BBC’s coverage of political and religious issues.
In sending the complaint Graham Smith added:
“The BBC must learn that it is there to report on the monarchy, not to celebrate and promote the monarchy. The same level of journalistic scrutiny must be applied to the palace, the royal family and all their PR events that is applied to politicians and other public servants.”
[The full complaint can be viewed and downloaded at www.republic.org.uk/bbctrustcomplaint.pdf]