Grand National ‘cruelty complaints’ from BBC viewers more than 10 times higher than last year

The BBC press office confirmed today that, from a peak audience of 8.8 million, they received 313 complaints about the Grand National, up from just 29 complaints last year.

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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Joe McNally


4 thoughts on “Grand National ‘cruelty complaints’ from BBC viewers more than 10 times higher than last year

  1. How many more of these beautiful animals must die for the sake of human entertainment and greed. Today i’m ashamed to say i watched the John Smiths grand national and i can assure you you it will be for the last time. Having seen Synchronised unseat his rider before the start of the race i thought what a beautiful animal. No disrepect to A P McCoy. Little did i know this horse had only 15 mins left to live. My heart sank when amongst all the human euphoria and joy the news came that Synchronised and According to Pete had to be put to sleep. It was described as being kind to the animal and not to prolong its suffering. I cannot believe people think they have the right to use animals in sport then they wouldn’t have to be put to sleep.

    I realise my comments are probably going to fall on deaf ears but i suppose thats the way it is. If a an olympic athlete were to have a fatal fall in the 3000 metres steeplechase there would be an outcry and a call for the sport to be banned. With horse racing it seems like its happening over and over again.


    Daniel Lynn

    1. I agree with you, I don’t think animals should be used for sport and entertainment. I would like to complain but i don’t know how to. I think the GN should be stopped.

      Kind Regards

      Kayleigh Edwards

  2. I was sickened once again by the news that 2 beautiful horses died in the name of sport for geedy people who only think of making lots of money out of them. Wjile the news of the horses dying people were cheering and cracking open the bubbly at the thought of the great big cheque. This is so heartbreaking yet it is allowed to go on every year. What can we do to be heard? Something must be done to stop this animal cruelty because that is what it is. Please stop the Grand National please stop the killing of beautiful animals.

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