Is the BBC anti angling?


PETA given platform to launch attacks on sport

The BBC has come under renewed fire again this week and stands accused of being anti angling.

The claim follows a week-long series of programmes on Radio 4 which chose to focus on the perceived threats to, and contentious issues within, the sport of fishing, instead of championing the many positive benefits of the nation’s most popular pastime.

This latest slap in the face comes just a few weeks after we revealed that BBC bosses had yet to commission Hugh Miles and Martin Bowlers’ groundbreaking Catching the Impossible series.

Broadcast as part of the Farming Today programme presented by Mark Holdstock, the series of reports aired on Radio 4 left many anglers feeling frustrated, especially when the BBC provided extremist animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) with a platform to condemn all anglers as ‘cruel’.

Angl ing Trades Association chief executive Bruno Broughton, remains extremely disappointed by the broadcast media’s attitude to angling.

“My experiences of the BBC spans at least a dozen interviews over the last decade or so, most of which centred on very negative matters – mainly anti-angling and the issue of whether or not fish feel pain,” explained Bruno.

“While these are legitimate subjects, they are given vastly disproportionate coverage at the expense of the hundreds of other interesting and newsworthy stories relating to the positive contributions angling makes to society.

“Securing good media exposure for our sport is extremely important, but sadly lacking at present. Anything that can be done to change that will have the backing of the Angling Trades Association,” he added.

Another angling spokesperson who was angered by the BBC’s approach wasFisheries and Angling Conservation Trust representative Mike Heylin.

“I’m amazed that the BBC still invites the views of an animal rights organisation that takes pets off old ladies’ laps, prevents school kids playing with puppies, and wants people to stop riding horses. In anybody’s book that’s an extreme view of the world,” claimed Mike, who represented angling in the debate with the PETA spokesperson.

“Why is a public service broadcaster providing a platform for such views?” he asked.

BBC Radio 4’s producer Alasdair Cross was quick to defend their reporting.

“I’m confident that anglers will be comfortable with the balance we showed over the course of the week’s coverage. We invited PETA on the programme because it is the largest animal rights organisation in the world. Its campaign against angling is undoubtedly influential and certainly worthy of debate,” he claimed.

However, it is extremely doubtful whether any of the UK’s four million regular anglers will agree with PETA’s comparison that hooking a fish is like hooking a dog through the mouth and towing it along behind a car at 40mph.

“The BBC’s recent coverage of angling on Radio 4’s Farming Today programme underlines the need for a strong unified governing body for angling that can secure positive reporting of all the benefits that angling provides in society,” claimed Angling Conservation Association boss Mark Lloyd, who was interviewed about the unification process.

“I wasn’t overly concerned about PETA’s involvement. It was just the BBC attempting to provide balanced reporting,” he added.