The BBC has been accused of “ignoring” a large pro-European Union (EU) protest over the weekend, where several British establishment figures took to the rallying stage.
An estimated 100,000 people marched in London on Saturday during a Unite for Europe demonstration against ‘hard Brexit’.
Several past and current Westminster politicians, including Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron and former Labour spin-doctor Alastair Campbell, took part in the protest.
However, the BBC barely touched the event.
“Am assuming the Brextremist Lie Machine bullying of the BBC means this excellent rally not being covered. #FarageNews,” Campbell tweeted on the day.
An article on the channel’s website was also criticized for focusing on the minute’s silence for the victims of last Wednesday’s terrorist attack in Westminster rather than the actual topic of the march.
“Appalling editorial. This has NOTHING to do with the attacks. We marched against Brexit,” said one Facebook user.
The original headline of the article read “London attack: Victims remembered at anti-Brexit march.” It was later changed to “Thousands take to streets in anti-Brexit London march.”
Am assuming the Brextremist Lie Machine bullying of the BBC means this excellent rally not being covered. #FarageNews
— Alastair Campbell (@campbellclaret) March 25, 2017
Other well-known establishment figures took to social media to vent against the public broadcaster’s decision to cover the story only on the 6pm and 10pm national bulletins.
Is BBC under political pressure to play down massive anti-#Brexit movement in the UK? You bet it is. The Downing St stench grows. Be angry.
— A C Grayling (@acgrayling) March 25, 2017
“Is BBC under political pressure to play down massive anti-Brexit movement in the UK? You bet it is. The Downing St stench grows. Be angry,” author and philosopher AC Grayling wrote on Twitter.
Tech magazines editor Mike Butcher also tweeted: “Pretty annoyed the BBC has ignored the biggest pro-EU march ever & 60 years of the EU.”
Some pointed out the event had more coverage in Portuguese and German news than on Britain’s largest news broadcaster.
Absolute disgrace that BBC TV News gives just 5 seconds coverage to pro EU march by 50,000 people but gives extensive time to UKIP news pic.twitter.com/q1IHCcgvWR
— Stephen Williams (@swilliamsmp) March 25, 2017
According to the Independent, the BBC declined to comment and was unable to divulge the number of complaints it had received over the day’s coverage. The exact amount of time dedicated to the protest was also not confirmed.
Some, however, said the BBC was being wrongly targeted.
“Can we please not add ‘public trust in the BBC’ to the list of Brexit’s many victims? If we erode that edifice we’ll just get more Fake News,” TV presenter Greg Jenner said on Twitter.
BBC Brexit bias
Despite the complaints, the BBC has more readily been accused of having an anti-Brexit bias.
Last week, a group of 70 MPs used pro-Brexit newspapers, the Telegraph and Daily Mail, to publish an open letter to ‘Auntie’, shaming the channel for its alleged pro-EU stance.
“I agree with you that these are consequential times. For that reason, it is more important than ever that the BBC’s journalism is independent of political pressure,” BBC Director General Tony Hall wrote in reply.
“We will continue to listen respectfully and respond wherever appropriate. Above all, we will guard our independence, report the news diligently and impartially, and continue to fulfil our mission on behalf of all our audiences.”