TV Twelfth coverage overlapped

TV coverage of Orange marches, such as Bessbrook above, was broadcast on two channels at the same time
TV coverage of Orange marches, such as Bessbrook above, was broadcast on two channels at the same time

The Twelfth of July is undoubtedly the biggest day of the marching season.

On Monday a total of 19 demonstrations were held across the cities, towns and villages of Northern Ireland.



In addition to this more than 100,000 Orangemen and women as well as supporters took to the streets for the Twelfth celebrations.

I myself had a thoroughly enjoyable day at the flagship Twelfth event in Bessbrook, County Armagh along with fellow brethren, family and friends.

There was a great atmosphere throughout the village and no one allowed the wet weather to dampen their spirits.

An estimated 15,000 people went to watch approximately 80 silver, flute, pipe and accordion bands parade along with some 5,000 Orange brethren. There was a great family friendly feeling at Bessbrook which undoubtedly was echoed at other demonstrations throughout the province.

Although all demonstrations passed off mainly without incident I was disappointed to learn that TV coverage focusing on highlights from the Twelfth demonstrations across Northern Ireland were being shown at the same time by both BBC NI and also UTV.

Surely it would have made more sense for each respective broadcaster to show their highlight programmes at different times so their viewing audience would have been increased.

I feel that both UTV and BBC NI have been foolish with the way they have acted in this case and ultimately television viewers such as myself have suffered as a result.

I would have liked to have been able to watch both highlight programmes, but was unfortunately unable to do so.

Some may say that you could record one of the programmes on something like Sky Plus and therefore enjoy both programmes, but not everyone is able to do so.

I would therefore urge those in charge of the programming schedule of BBC NI and UTV to thoroughly consider putting their highlight programmes of the Twelfth on at different times from each other next year and in future years.

I feel that not enough television time is dedicated to showing Loyal Order related events as it stands so real thought must go into how the broadcasters can best maximise their coverage of future Twelfth demonstrations.

Ultimately, in recent years the Orange Order have put a real focus on educating people from all communities about their heritage and what they stand for and this has to be welcomed.

I feel that real focus must go into how broadcasters can also play a role in making programmes that seek to educate the public on the history and meaning of not only the Orange Order, but all Loyal Orders.

It is my hope that as we move into the future television broadcasters will be more forthcoming in wanting to make programmes focusing on the history of our Loyal Orders and the positive role they still play in our society today.

Stephen Moutray, DUP MLA, Stormont