Statement by TUV Newry and Armagh spokesperson Keith Ratcliffe:
“Within 24 hours of the announcement by the BBC that they were binning live coverage of the Twelfth TUV had made contact with GB News about the possibility of them filling the gap and therefore I am absolutely delighted that the channel has stepped in and is for the first time ever offering a U.K. wide audience the opportunity to experience the colour, spectacle and sound of the Twelfth live in the comfort of their own homes.
“Today’s announcement is confirmation of what many of us already knew – the BBC no longer can control what people watch. In an age of digital and on demand TV they no longer set the agenda. However, many of them are struggling with this new reality with one BBC presenter / commentator suggesting on his license fee funded show that the Twelfth was diminished by the BBC decision. The reality is that the BBC is diminished by failing to provide coverage of one of Europe’s largest annual celebrations of culture and history where an unparalleled of variety of bands – pipe bands, flute bands, sliver bands, brass bands and accordion bands – turn out in spotless uniforms and many, the vast majority, produce music of a standard which would justify going out to see that single band on its own.
“The musical talent displayed by the bands, the artistic skill displayed on the banners and the drums and an event which is one of the annual highlights for everyone who is there will now be brought to a U.K. wide audience and that is a great thing. I am particularly delighted that the focus will be on the Armagh Twelfth which offers a great variety of superbly turned out bands. I’ve no doubt that GB News will be warmly welcomed by a community which increasingly feels ignored by old broadcasters.
“So well done GB News for seeing the obvious opportunity presented by the BBC decision.
“There are many people, particularly the infirm and elderly, who will be delighted by this news because it will mean they will be able to watch the coverage live.
“One of the interesting knock on questions to arise from this is – why are we all forced to pay for the BBC? If a relatively new, non-publicly funded broadcaster can find the resources to cover the Twelfth live what are we to make of the BBC excuse that they cannot do it because of financial pressures?
“Quality, innovative programming is hardly the hallmark of the BBC. With reruns of old episodes of Bargain Hunt and Homes Under the Hammer likely to occupy the place once afforded to the Twelfth I have no doubt that many people will do what they normally do every other day of the year and never bother with the BBC’s tired and stale offerings.”