ITV’s Grand National coverage had 700 complaints over response to protests
The coverage of the Grand National on ITV has received more than 700 complaints alleging bias from commentators over their response to animal rights protesters.
In April, more than 100 people were arrested after activists from campaign group Animal Rising attempted to scale fences around Aintree Racecourse, near Liverpool.
ITV Racing Live At The Randox Grand National Festival 2023 covered the event on Saturday April 15, which was shown from 2pm to 6.15pm on ITV1.
The programme was reported to have received 653 complaints, according to a release by Ofcom on Wednesday.
A spokeswoman for Ofcom said: “The majority of complaints alleged bias by the commentators in response to animal rights groups’ protesting at the event.
“These are additional complaints to those reported last week, and the cumulative total on this issue is 746.”
This month, ITV Racing’s Ed Chamberlin said he “disagreed” with the protesters after he commentated on the event which saw protesters climb fences.
Chamberlin, who said he was speaking as a fan not as a broadcaster, told The News Agents podcast: “It got very difficult…it was difficult to find the words, the right words, to describe it, you know emotions were running high and it was very unfortunate the way it played out.”
He added that the event went from a “celebration” to making people feel “frustration” and “on edge”.
“I found that uncomfortable to watch,” he added.
The three-day event also saw the death of three horses, Hill Sixteen, Dark Raven and Envoye Special, along with a delayed start following the protests.
Chamberlin also wrote in Sporting Life that the sport had seen a reduction of “fatal injuries by 33% over the last 20 years”.
He added: “However, I also believe, we in racing need to listen, understand and engage.
“Times have changed, attitudes have changed and the social license has changed.”
Meanwhile, Channel’s 4 reality TV programme Scared Of The Dark saw 302 complaints “about the welfare of a rabbit”, according to Ofcom.
The series which saw celebrities such as former professional boxer Chris Eubank, Gogglebox star Scarlett Moffatt and former England footballer Paul Gascoigne live in darkness had one moment when the contestants had to put their hands in a box.
Actress Donna Preston, former professional boxer Nicola Adams, Eubank and singer Max George were among the celebrities who were told to touch the container which contained a rabbit, hands and sausage.
ITV and Channel 4 have been contacted for a response.Published: by Radio NewsHub