BBC Northern Ireland should have extensively covered the centenary parade

News Letter editorial on Tuesday May 31 2022:

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

On Saturday evening the BBC gave only three minutes TV coverage to the main Northern Ireland centenary parade.

Think about that for a moment.

Northern Ireland turned 100, the country that the BBC — the national broadcaster — has in its name here, BBC Northern Ireland, which it is supposed to reflect, and yet the biggest centenary celebration got just three minutes.

The BBC can say that its main Saturday evening bulletin is only about six or so minutes, and it gave it half of that.

But the question then arises: why did it not do a special programme on such a mammoth event?

To state a very obvious point, people or organisations or countries only get one centenary. It is a very rare anniversary.

So what exactly has BBC NI done to celebrate this achievement? It ran for example a series of interesting podcasts on the centenary of partition but that seemed to be a neutral event.

Another question for the BBC is this: Is it neutral on Northern Ireland?

And does the BBC at a national level have an answer to that? The BBC of course has a duty to be impartial between political parties, but that is a separate matter.

The BBC is far from being alone in having done effectively nothing over the last year to celebrate Northern Ireland’s centenary. Every single publicly funded body with Northern Ireland in its title should have celebrated the milestone, but barely any so much as once said: Happy Birthday Northern Ireland!

The BBC is also far from being alone in having given scant coverage to Saturday’s wonderful, huge, peaceful parade.

But the British Broadcasting Corporation is the national broadcaster for the UK, funded by a compulsory charge.

It should not be neutral on the UK and its most important anniversaries. Look for example how it will be exhaustively covering the Queen’s Jubilee, and n neutral between those who think a monarchy is wrong and a jubilee of no significance.

At the very least it should have covered extensively a parade that meant so much to many people on Northern Ireland, and which 100,000 attended and 25,000 participated, and which others who could not attend needed to be able to see on television.

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