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BBC apologises for Nicky Campbell comments on salmon farming

Radio presenter Nicky Campbell claimed salmon farming was
Radio presenter Nicky Campbell claimed salmon farming was "highly polluting and unregulated" and "terrible for the environment". Following a complaint from the SSPO, the BBC has said he should have been more accurate with his language. Photo: BBC.

BBC Radio 5 Live’s head of news, Jonathan Crawford, has issued an apology to the Scottish salmon sector for comments made by high-profile radio broadcaster Nicky Campbell earlier this month.

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The Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO) complained to the BBC following remarks made by Campbell on both the Your Call programme, which he presented, on November 6 and then on 5 Live Breakfast, again hosted by Campbell, the following day.

Campbell claimed the Scottish salmon sector was “highly polluting and unregulated”. He also claimed farms were “terrible for the environment”.

Breached BBC guidelines

In a press release, the SSPO said it refuted the claims by Campbell, making it clear they were wrong, misleading and factually inaccurate. The SSPO argued that, by making such unfounded and biased remarks, Campbell had breached the BBC’s editorial guidelines, both in terms of accuracy and impartiality.

The SSPO also maintained that the BBC should have included the views of those within the salmon sector to balance the bias shown by Campbell.

Crawford, the head of news at BBC Radio 5 Live, has now responded and apologised for the mistakes made by Campbell.

‘We accept we fell short’

In his response, Crawford said: “We always strive to maintain impartiality in any discussions on this issue. In the heat of live radio broadcasts, especially during political interviews, it is sometimes hard to find the best form of words but we accept we fell short in the two programmes you highlighted, and for that I apologise. We should have been more accurate with our language and included wider views on the subject.”

He added that management had “discussed this with Nicky and the production team and will be taking steps to ensure it does not happen again”. Crawford said Radio 5 Live would love to take up the SSPO had made to visit a salmon farm.

‘Acknowledged mistakes’

Hamish Macdonell, the SSPO’s director of strategic engagement, who initiated the complaint, said: “I am delighted the BBC has acknowledged the mistakes made in these two broadcasts. I’m sure everyone involved in the Scottish salmon sector will hope that inaccurate and partial broadcasting of this sort never happens again on the BBC.”

Macdonell added: “I am delighted that the Radio 5 Live production team is keen to take up our offer of a visit to a salmon farm. The best way to correct the myths and misconceptions about our sector is to show as many people as possible what great work is being done by so many people on our world-class salmon farms.”

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