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Rural audiences slam BBC’s Countryfile, Chris Packham’s Springwatch and The Archers

Rural audiences slam BBC’s Countryfile, Chris Packham’s Springwatch and The Archers for failing to ‘represent rural issues’

  • Poll of 3,400 Countryside Alliance members heavily criticised BBC shows
  • Audiences said the corporation did not adequately represent rural issues 
  • Worst shows include Springwatch and Autumnwatch with 90% against them 

Rural audiences have slammed the BBC’s countryside programming for failing to ‘represent rural issues’. 

In a poll, Countryside Alliance members said Countryfile, Springwatch and Autumnwatch and The Archers failed to adequately represent their way of life. 

The shows by Chris Packham – who is against fox hunting, badger culling and countryside sports – were judged the worst, with some 90 per cent of respondents agreeing Springwatch and Autumnwatch were not a realistic representation of country life. 

A total of 89 per cent felt Countryfile did not focus on the type of issues that mattered to a rural audience while Radio 4’s The Archers – dubbed a ‘contemporary drama in a rural setting’ – also came under heavy fire.  

The Countryside Alliance also said two thirds of its members want to scrap the licence fee, according to the Telegraph. 

It said members want to see the corporation create ‘rural programming for the countryside, not just about the countryside’. 

In a poll, Countryside Alliance members say The Archers (pictured) do not adequately represent them

Springwatch 2022 with Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan, and Iolo Williams

Springwatch 2022 with Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan, and Iolo Williams

Radio 4's The Archers - dubbed a 'contemporary drama in a rural setting' - also came under heavy fire

Radio 4’s The Archers – dubbed a ‘contemporary drama in a rural setting’ – also came under heavy fire 

The poll – made up mostly of the over 65s – also concluded 80 per cent of respondents want to see more farming, as well as rural sports and conservation and land management on the TV. 

The Countryside Alliance will give its findings to the BBC as part of a ‘rural impartiality dossier’. 

Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, told The Telegraph: ‘The BBC must appreciate that the minority rural audience does not feel fully represented.

‘There is a desire for rural programming for the countryside, not just about the countryside. 

‘In short, rural programming should not only take into account what urban viewers may find of interest and it needs to showcase the value of important rural activities like farming, shooting, hunting and angling’.

It comes as the BBC said it is reviewing the Countryfile programme after some viewers complained it was being ‘biased and unfair’ on issues such as Brexit, farming, fox hunting and the environment.

The broadcaster said in July that BBC Breakfast, Countryfile and the morning radio news programmes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been chosen to be assessed for editorial standards and culture including impartiality, freedom of expression, diversity of voices, accuracy, fairness and trust.

The BBC said these selections have not been made because of particular impartiality concerns.

Impartiality with regards to its presenters also needs to be a focus, the Countryside Alliance said. 

Pictured: Tim Vine (centre-left) and Kiri Pritchard-McLean (centre-right) about to test their sheep herding skills to the test for a special of Countryfile in  February

Pictured: Tim Vine (centre-left) and Kiri Pritchard-McLean (centre-right) about to test their sheep herding skills to the test for a special of Countryfile in  February 

As well as finding that audiences wanted more farming, 80 per cent, and rural sports and conservation and land management on the TV. Pictured: The Archers

As well as finding that audiences wanted more farming, 80 per cent, and rural sports and conservation and land management on the TV. Pictured: The Archers 

A BBC spokeswoman told MailOnline: ‘We always welcome feedback and we’re very proud of the range of programming we provide. 

‘Programmes such as Countryfile and Farming Today cover a range of topics and views when reporting on farming and rural life across the UK as well as within our news coverage. 

‘As part of ongoing work to ensure the highest editorial standards across all our output, Countryfile is one of many programmes to be reviewed – it has not been selected because of any particular impartiality concerns.’ 

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