BBC upholds complaint over ‘biased’ documentary

The BBC has upheld a complaint about impartiality in its documentary Meat: A Threat to our Planet, which aired on BBC One last November.

The BBC has upheld a complaint about impartiality in its documentary Meat: A Threat to our Planet, which aired on BBC1 last November.

NFU made the complaint when the show aired and escalated it to Ofcom, saying the BBC failed to provide a timely response.

The documentary was criticised by farming groups at the time for focusing on the extremes of intensive meat production outside of the UK, showing practices that would be illegal in the UK, and failing to represent the sustainable farming methods practised by thousands of British farmers.

The programme has now been pulled from BBC iPlayer.

Minette Batters, NFU president, said the result was “a long time coming” but offers “true vindication”.

“British farmers are rightly proud of the work they do to rear quality livestock and care for the environment, and they were angry and hurt by the false impression of UK livestock farming the programme created for the viewer at home,” she added.

“In Britain we have some of the most climate-friendly systems of food production in the world. Emissions from UK beef production are already half that of the global average and our farmers are working to become net zero by 2040.

“UK grass-based systems are incomparable with the intensive feedlot style systems shown on the programme, and it is fantastic to see that being recognised today.”

NFU director of communications Fran Barnes said it was clear that the programme “fell short” of the BBC’s guidelines on impartiality.

“It has also been incredibly frustrating that it has taken 10 months for the BBC to acknowledge this and to apologise, and that we have had to escalate this complaint to Ofcom in the absence of a timely response from the BBC,” she explained.

“While we acknowledge the apology, we would like the BBC to go further and commit to redressing the balance in future programming to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

“All farmers want is fair coverage of food and farming and an end to the demonisation of some sectors of productive agriculture, particularly livestock.”

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