Shots from the shires
The bbc is often portrayed as a malign influence in major debates. With editorial guidelines set from above, news reportage on subjects as diverse as climate change and raptor persecution set agendas for listeners who didn’t know that they needed one. In a constantly changing media landscape, the bbc is facing different challenges to those faced by Lord reith, coming from government and competitors for attention. It’s a race for revenue and like most competitive industries, the protagonists are constantly seeking commercial advantages. The bbc is no different but its less-than-impartial coverage of – and stance on – brexit, espousal of the rspb, RSPCA, WWF and so-called experts on meteorology, are major influences.
Its recent announcement that the case for man-made climate change had now been accepted as holy writ, so discussion about it no longer needs balanced argument, was indicative of new thinking. It was, therefore, illuminating to listen to the balanced pieces on gamekeeping that featured in the Farming
Today programme, because they recognised that the role of game management was key to the economic survival of rural communities and that owning a shooting estate or grouse moor was not a licence to print money.
The challenges facing keepers and shooting were voiced impeccably by duncan Sinclair of the Powys moorland Partnership. There can be no wild game shooting without conservation. Killing game for fun is a distortion of the truth, but the public are rarely told the real story. The default position of the shooting community is defensive when good, positive information is available to set our own agenda – and raptor persecution is in the minority but should be recognised and eliminated.
Less cogent were the suggestions by Friends
Of The earth that half a million acres of moorland were being managed as a monoculture exclusively to support shooting, which should be stopped immediately, and listeners’ tweets that trumpeted the raptor issue. A recent court judgement that cases brought by animal charities often “have the presumption of bias” against the custodians of the countryside was groundbreaking, so perhaps Auntie doesn’t always know best.