An independent review commissioned by the BBC Trust has concluded that the corporation’s rural coverage can have a ‘metropolitan bias’, is too reliant on celebrities and is accused of being too ‘squeamish’ and ‘simplistic’ in its coverage of rural life. The report concluded that The Archers on Radio 4 was ‘better than BBC news on rural issues’.

That much-loved radio drama, with some five million listeners a week, and Countryfile plus Farming Today were singled out for praise, but their phenomenal success begs the question as to why the BBC shies away from making more shows about rural matters.

The problem was seen to be most acute over the badger issue, where the corporation was criticised for its predominant use of images of healthy badgers to open or conclude reports, weighing the argument in favour of the anti-cull lobby.

The report also found that those living in metropolitan areas have little understanding or interest in rural affairs, which is why I welcome the review (COUNTRY LIFE took part in it), which concluded that the BBC should re-establish the post of Rural Affairs Correspondent as well as broadening its rural contacts list so that it’s not so reliant on a handful of organisations, such as the RSPB, NFU and National Trust.

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