Farming: Chris Packham faces CA wrath

While the BBC conducts an internal inquiry into the impartiality of its popular Sunday night Countryfile programme, a leading countryside organisation claims the broadcaster is missing the real targets.

Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance (CA) said that Countryfile’s output was ‘so anodyne’ that rows over impartiality were hardly likely to be common.

“It is classic Sunday night television which can be superficial but remains incredibly popular with an average of 6 million viewers every week. The main criticism of Countryfile I hear is not about impartiality, but that it is programming about the countryside, rather than for the countryside.”

Instead he claimed that the worst of the BBC’s rural output was what he termed the “pseudo-scientific, anthropomorphic nonsense” which he said appeared on programmes like Springwatch and Autumnwatch.

And he added that his organisation had some concerns about Radio 4’s Farming Today, which he claimed that, despite purporting to be a programme for the farming community and the countryside, tended to follow the agenda of environmental and animal rights NGOs – as, he argued, did BBC national news.

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“Perhaps the reason that the BBC has chosen to review the impartiality of its least controversial rural programme is to avoid the elephant in the room which is the platform it continues to give one of its highest profile presenters, Chris Packham, to carry out some of the most partial campaigning imaginable,” said Bonner, writing in the CA’s blog.

And he called on country dwellers to take part in the Alliance’s on-line survey of the BBC’s coverage which he said would be presented to those undertaking the review on impartiality.

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