A fresh row is brewing over TV’s coverage of the Kennel Club after a dog welfare campaigner and the director of Pedigree Dogs Exposed accused Channel 4 of compromising its editorial integrity.
Their criticism, strongly rejected by Channel 4, is two-fold: first, that Sunset + Vine is producing More 4’s coverage of Crufts as well as having a commercial deal with the Kennel Club to produce online coverage of the dog show; and second, that Mentorn Media, the indie behind the forthcoming More 4 film about dog welfare, Good Dog! Bad Dog!, is owned by Tinopolis, the same super-indie that owns S+V.
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Passionate Productions’ Jemima Harrison, who made BBC1’s Pedigree Dogs Exposed, said the Kennel Club paying S+V to produce online coverage of Crufts threatened the impartiality of its coverage for More 4. “Let’s face it, it’s hard to bite the hand that feeds you,” she said.
And goes on...
C4 rejected the accusations. It said S+V and Mentorn were separate companies and that More 4 would maintain full editorial control. A spokeswoman said: “Any suggestion of a conflict of interest that would compromise the editorial independence of Good Dog! Bad Dog! is entirely wrong.”
She said the doc would “include contributions from all sides of the debate” and that More 4’s coverage of Crufts would address good practice in dog breeding and provide a platform for debate.
Tinopolis chairman Ron Jones dismissed the allegations as “bollocks”. “I don’t have to justify to the world how we operate. This is the most absurd allegation I’ve ever had put to me. They are just whingers and the world is full of them,” he said.
The first comment left on the article states:
Regardless of the rights and wrongs of this particular issue, it's alarming to hear Ron Jones state: 'I don't have to justify to the world how we operate.' Accountability to the audience and the truth has never been more important.
Latest comment from Jemima!
I am not questioning the editorial independence of the Mentorn doc (although given the controversial nature of the subject it would, perhaps, have been more appropriate for More4 to have commissioned the programme from a different.. kennel). But I do think it's legitimate to question the Sunset + Vine coverage of Crufts given that the company is being paid by the Kennel Club - and also because (not included in the report above) Philippa Robinson maintains that when she called S+V in December and spoke to a researcher working on the Crufts programming, she was told that the Kennel Club was the client and that they had "complete editorial control".
and latest comment from Philippa Robinson:
"Last week I sent a polite email to David Stranks, who heads up Sunset
+Vine asking him for reassurances regarding the coverage of Crufts. He
failed to supply any but said he'd pass on my concerns to both Channel
4 and the Kennel Club. He failed to tell me who at Channel 4, again in
answer to a polite request. Now a week later I have their response
which they failed to send to me directly but preferred to answer my
questions through the media. I wonder if this is common practice in
independent television? I have not had any reassurances back from the
Kennel Club either."
Judge for yourselves. More4 Crufts coverage starts this evening on More4 and on Sunday the hour long Good Dog Bad Dog airs immediately afterwards.