BBC to have dedicated RL correspondent from 2017

The BBC is to have a dedicated rugby league correspondent from 2017, the All-Party Parliamentary Group have revealed.

The new role was revealed after a visit to the Palace of Westminster by BBC bigwigs to discuss the coverage of rugby league.

BBC Trust Chairman Rona Fairhead OBE, Head of BBC Sport Barbara Slater OBE, and BBC TV Sport Editor Alastair McIntyre spoke to the Parliamentary Rugby League Group about the role and strategy the organisation takes in covering rugby league, and how the corporation views the sport.

The meeting examined how the sport is covered by the BBC across all its media channels.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group receives more correspondence about the BBC’s coverage of rugby league than anything else.

Specific complaints were raised during the meeting which focused on missing coverage of major national rugby league events in news broadcasts across the corporation, the use of “rugby” when they mean rugby union and the attitude of presenters on flagship radio programme Today. 

The Group will ensure those complaints, and others, are passed to Fairhead’s office.

Greg Mulholland MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group, was pleased with how the meeting progressed.

“On behalf of the Group, I was very pleased Rona Fairhead and Barbara Slater agreed to speak to us,” he said.

“Rugby league and the BBC have been synonymous over the years and we thank Barbara and her team for their ongoing work.

“The BBC rugby league team do a fantastic job and are hugely passionate about what they do. It was great to hear from Alastair in more detail about the way they cover rugby league and the innovations that have introduced in coverage.

“However, as Members made clear in the meeting, we cannot help but be disappointed in some ways the game is treated within the corporation outside of BBC Sport, particular across BBC news and online.

“Amongst London based news editors there is clearly an institutional blind eye to rugby league which is one of the most popular team sports in the country.

“On one particularly stark example the recent England victory over New Zealand was not even mentioned in a news bulletin, which is both bizarre and disgraceful. 

“The meeting was therefore a very useful opportunity for this and specific issues to be raised before the Chairman of the BBC Trust to understand the depth of feeling across the game and how this might be addressed.”

“We recognise there are challenges in the broadcast and news market, but when you consider the scale of rugby league in the UK all we ask is for our sport to get an appropriate level of coverage. 

“We are very grateful to Rona, Barbara and Alastair for their time and we look forward to working with them and the BBC to the benefit of rugby league.”

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