Orange Order voice disappointment as BBC scrap live TV Twelfth coverage

Orange Order voice disappointment as BBC scrap live TV Twelfth coverage
Staff reporter


Staff reporter

The BBC has confirmed that it will not be resuming live TV coverage of the Belfast Twelfth of July parade.

The corporation said it had taken the consideration “after much consideration”.

Representatives from the BBC met with senior Orangeman Mervyn Gibson and DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson yesterday to share details of their plans.

In a letter issued following the meeting, BBC Northern Ireland Interim Director Adam Smyth said, "We think there is particular value in seeking to better/more fully reflect Orange Order events across the region and that our highlights programme, which has been popular with local audiences, is the best means of achieving this objective.

"The Belfast demonstration will, of course, be included within it. And this coverage will be complemented by reports on the BBC's news services across radio, television and online."

Mr Smyth added: "We know that our decision not to resume live television coverage of the Belfast demonstration may be disappointing for some people and have made this decision after careful consideration and based on all usual editorial considerations.

"We recognise the importance of 12 July events for those taking part and many others within our local community.

"This is something that we will properly reflect within our output, seeking to describe and explain the significance of what's happening and to make it more generally accessible, including to those with other backgrounds and beliefs."

The station said the Belfast demonstration will still be covered, including an hour-long programme featuring events at eight locations.

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland voiced its “immense disappointment” at the decision.

A spokesman said: “This decision by BBC NI was reached without meaningful discussion or consultation with the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland and is immensely disappointing and frustrating, not only for our members but for the many members of the public who watch the programme each year.

“We became aware of the plans to cancel the live broadcast during our annual Twelfth of July planning meeting with BBC NI staff.

“The Grand Secretary Rev. Mervyn Gibson and Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, a former Assistant Grand Master and DUP Leader, then met with Interim Director of BBC Northern Ireland Adam Smyth and asked him to reconsider this decision.

“The BBC is a public broadcasting service and to cancel live coverage of the Twelfth of July - the biggest cultural event in Northern Ireland with tens of thousands taking part and hundreds of thousands more watching at the eighteen host venues – defies logic.

“We pointed out many people cannot attend Twelfth of July parades for a range of reasons. Many are housebound due to illness or old age, while others are in nursing homes – they are the people who will be impacted most by this decision.

“It is hard to accept this as anything other than a further snub to the wider Protestant, Unionist and Loyalist Community and our culture.”

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