Thursday, 10 December 2009

Press and public say "Com-off it KC" on Ofcom!

Today's papers seem to have had a bit more time to think about what the Ofcom ruling really means... in today's Times

BBC survives dogfight over its Kennel Club expose
The BBC and the Kennel Club both claimed victory yesterday after the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom issued its ruling on a documentary that exposed breeding techniques causing deformity and disease in dogs.

Ofcom said that the programme, screened on BBC One in August last year, was overwhelmingly accurate in its criticisms of the Kennel Club but did not give the organisation enough time to respond to some allegations, including claims about its links to the eugenics movement and the Nazis.

The producers of Pedigree Dogs Exposed did not deceive the organisation into taking part in the programme or edit footage to portray it unfairly, Ofcom said. However, it said an interview with the Kennel Club’s scientific adviser had been misleadingly edited.

The programme led to the BBC scrapping its coverage of Crufts and groups including the RSPCA withdrawing support for the annual dog show. The Kennel Club also changed its breeding rules after the row.
Ofcom’s report was delayed by a month after the BBC raised concerns about the handling of the complaints and demanded more time to respond. The BBC must now broadcast a summary of the findings, but said that it stood by the programme and, as a signal of support, aired an edited version of the show on BBC America last night.

Ofcom upheld complaints from the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of Great Britain that the programme’s claims that the club was not doing all it could to remedy a condition called dermoid sinus did not fairly represent the scientific evidence. An allegation that the club deliberately bred deformed dogs that suffered from spina bifida was also inaccurate and not supported by research.

Ofcom also said that the programme was unfair to Virginia Barwell, a breeder of Cavalier King Charles spaniels, because the very short excerpts of her interview that were broadcast oversimplified her views. A series of other complaints were rejected.

A BBC spokesman said: “While we note Ofcom’s findings regarding some aspects of Pedigree Dogs Exposed, we stand firmly by the programme, which was clearly in the public interest; and we stand firmly by its conclusions. The broadcast has accelerated unprecedented reform in the way pedigree dogs are bred — including new limits on inbreeding, changes to the written standards of 78 breeds of dog and a new code of ethics which prohibits the culling of puppies for cosmetic reasons.”

The Kennel Club said it was disappointed that although Ofcom found that an interview with its scientific adviser, Jeff Sampson, had been edited so it did not fairly represent his views, it did not result in “any overall unfairness to the Kennel Club itself”.

Ronnie Irving, chairman of the Kennel Club, said: “The Kennel Club is pleased that Ofcom has confirmed that Professor Sampson was not fairly represented in the programme. It is therefore surprising that Ofcom doesn’t also conclude, on this occasion, that the Kennel Club itself was therefore unfairly represented. Ofcom has actually changed its mind on this point since its provisional decision.

“The damaging effect of this unfair editing was to distort our views and to fail to show viewers the seriousness with which we take the issue of dog health ... This process has taken a significant amount of time and the Kennel Club now wants to move forward, continuing to work with breed experts, our scientific advisers and the veterinary profession, to ensure that all dogs are given the opportunity to lead the healthy, happy lives that they deserve.”

Jemima Harrison, of Passionate Productions, which made the film for the BBC, said: “We are pleased that support for the film’s findings from the veterinary, animal welfare and scientific communities has resulted in action to start to address the unacceptably widespread deformity, disease and disability in pedigree dogs.”

The Guardian were a bit too quick at recycling the KC's press release but have since given their piece a tweak, but it still doesn't really understand the story like the Times does. But the comments contain some real gems... read and enjoy! Who is dogscribbler?

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