Glasgow 2014: No bias at BBC, insists Inverdale

John Inverdale will present live coverage at this summer's event. Picture: BBC
John Inverdale will present live coverage at this summer's event. Picture: BBC
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ONE of the BBC’s most seasoned presenters has said the corporation will treat every event on its “merits” when deciding coverage for the Commonwealth Games, amid expected tensions over how the rival home nations will be represented.

John Inverdale said that although some people were always searching to find a “lack of impartiality” or presenters who were “venomously pro-something or anti-something else,” there will be no bias in favour of any team at Glasgow 2014.

The broadcaster, who will present live coverage at this summer’s event, also warned it was “impossible” for such a major international spectacle to exist in isolation from politics.

Mr Inverdale was among a host of high-profile BBC presenters who were in Glasgow yesterday for a media launch ahead of the Games, including Gabby Logan, Clare Balding, Hazel Irvine and Dougie Vipond.

Although the corporation is planning for extensive television, radio and online coverage, there will be no dedicated digital stream for the host nation.

With the Games taking place just two months before the referendum on independence, critics of the BBC will be poised to pounce on any perceived bias in the way it covers athletes from across the home nations.

Speaking at the Emirates Arena, one of the flagship venues for Glasgow 2014, Mr Inverdale said each day of the Games would throw up its own challenges in terms of scheduling for the home nations teams.

He told The Scotsman: “You treat everything on its merits. I genuinely think people are always out to try and find some reason why there will be a lack of impartiality or for someone to be venomously pro-something or anti-something else.

“But I don’t think it works like that. If you’ve broadcasted for a long time you treat everything on its merits.”

But he added: “I personally think it’s impossible for a sporting event to operate in isolation, wherever it might be.

“Sport is a political tool and the Olympic Games was a political tool. But I think the sport will transcend that because there’s great athletes, and their deeds will be all that matters for the duration of the Games.

“But anyone who says politics and sport don’t mix is naive. They do and they always have done, going back to Jesse Owens in 1936.”

Ms Balding agreed the BBC was well placed to cover the Games at such an important time in Scottish political history.

She said: “We cover political issues, as we did in [Sochi] Russia, but sport has its own identity and we will always tell the story, so whether it’s someone from Wales, the Channel Islands or England, Scotland or Northern Ireland their story will be told, It’s more cheering sport and performances rather than nations.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We welcome the BBC’s announcement of plans for its coverage of the Commonwealth Games.

“This will undoubtedly focus on the great sporting action on offer across the Games. We are confident that the BBC will bring that to life whether covering exciting action involving people from other countries or Team Scotland as the home nation.”

A BBC spokeswoman said: Regardless of what nation you follow, you will always be able to see the all the big moments of the Commonwealth Games live.

“BBC coverage will bring every moment but as with all BBC sport output, editorial merit will be considered as we deliver all the sporting action to audiences across TV, radio and digital platforms.

“The host nation is always a key part of the story and merit means all stories, not just medal hopes.