To whom it may concern,
I wish to make a formal complaint in relation to the BBC’s coverage of the birth of Prince George.
The obligation of BBC News is to broadcast news – not self-indulgent, patronising and trivial speculation. The unnecessary intrusiveness and blatant disregard for the parent’s privacy was particularly noticeable, especially when the baby’s quite evident distress (crying loudly and clenching his fists in anxiety in response to the assembled crowd’s applause) was insensitively interpreted as “his first Royal wave”.
These events are indeed important, but coverage should be proportionate, balanced and focused on actual developments rather than a relentless display of unquestioning, almost nationalistic, celebration. The BBC does not exist to commemorate and celebrate, but to provide quality, thought-provoking and intelligent analysis of events. Countless interviews with sycophants and admittedly colourful Monarchists do not constitute insightful reporting.
The disproportionate news coverage this event received meant that other news stories, some of more obvious and immediate significance, were either ignored or not given the attention they merited. It is not simply the amount of coverage that is of concern to me, but the nature of it. At no point were such issues as the role of monarchy and the perpetuation of the hereditary principle in a democratic society given any attention – nor, indeed, were the potential consequences of the media pressures on, and social expectations of, the new-born baby explored. A royal baby for many might be a cause to celebrate; for others it represents an opportunity to reflect on a child being born into the world with very few choices in life, whose relationships, education, career, religion and role have largely been pre-determined. We should also ask why some parents are not expected to be afforded the same privacy as others, and the role of the media in dehumanising the Royal Family and reducing a birth of a baby to a celebrity-obsessed media frenzy. The media circus, which the BBC to a large extent facilitated, was far from dignified.
The UK as a whole, while interested, was clearly far less obsessed with developments than the BBC. The licence-payer is also sufficiently intelligent to be treated with more respect and is certainly capable of listening to a range of voices on the subject, including those, like – for example – Republic, who might wish to raise some questions as to the significance of both the Royal birth and the reaction to it. Your decision only to broadcast pro-monarchy voices was both misplaced and a disservice to your viewers.
Like most people in the country, I do not personally know the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Again, like most people, I wish them and their new son every happiness. However, as a republican, a liberal, a parent and someone who believes in the importance of responsible media reporting, I feel that the BBC has missed opportunities and, in succumbing to the easy option of frantic, sycophantic obsession (not being afraid to play the patriotic card in the process) has demonstrated a lack of respect for the couple and their child, while also confirming its own shallowness and a fear of addressing the range of questions raised by the Royal birth.
In addition to raising questions about the future of the monarchy, last week's events also raised serious concerns about the nature of the BBC's reporting. I trust in the future the BBC can move away from traditional biases and entrenched perspectives and facilitate the kind of debate necessary in democratic society.
No doubt many of you take a different view as to the monarchy - personally I think kings, queens and princes should belong exclusively in history books and fairy tales. However, that isn't the substantive issue at stake here and I'd be interested in hearing what others made of the BBC's coverage. Surely the BBC should uphold its own (stated) principles of fairness and balance?