After the 2011 Grand National, complaints regarding animal cruelty were at their highest in 10 years, mostly directed at the coverage of the horse deaths. The breakdown:
161 about coverage of horse deaths
103 people felt the BBC should not cover GN
8 from viewers unhappy with whip usage
The BBC press office points out that the degree of general media coverage after the Grand National might have played some part in the increase in the volume of compaints.
Here is the BBC’s response to viewer complaints about the coverage of the deaths of Ornais and Dooney’s gate
We have received some complaints from viewers who are unhappy with how we covered the death of two horses during The Grand National on 9 April 2011.
In covering The Grand National, we have to strike a balance between covering the race as well as reflecting incidents that occur on the race track.
We reacted with as much care as possible given the very sad circumstances surrounding the death of the two horses.
We used the wide helicopter camera to cover any distressing scene as this provided the most distant angle available to us. We knew families with young children could be watching the race, so we tried to cover the deaths of the horses with as much sympathy as we could to ensure we minimised the distress this may cause our viewers.
Ultimately, our aim is to bring our audience the most comprehensive coverage of The Grand National; and we acknowledge that, when such sad events happen, it is hard to satisfy everyone with the manner in which they are covered
The breakdown of complaint categories from the BBC figures differs substantially from those reported by Channel 4 and the BHA where the main issue for complainers who contacted those organisations was whip use in the Grand National. Full article here
The BBC also commented on another article I wrote prior to the Grand National regarding the effect of their coverage on the non-racing public. Here is that article.
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