BBC Complaint Replies to Aston Villa Supporters About FA Cup Coverage

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In the last week, MOMS has encouraged Villa supporters to voice their concerns about the sensationalist and irresponsible comments made by the BBC MOTD’s live commentary team of Jonathan Pearce and Mark Lawrenson. Thanks to all who have taken the time to send their views to the BBC via their complaints form. The amount of Villans who have taken a stand has been impressive.

As a couple of readers who have known people who have worked in BBC complaints division have told us, once the complaints reach a certain number they formalise a standard reply to send out (then the more they get, the more serious they take action). Having had around a couple of hundred Villans (that we know of) voice their concerns to the BBC, this is the reply they have sent back to most Villa fans so far:

BBC Complaints Reply

Thanks for getting in touch with us about the Aston Villa v West Bromwich Albion match on FA Cup Match of the Day.

We appreciate that football is subjective and that fans hold a hugely diverse range of opinions, especially during a tense local derby such as this.

In this case, Mark Lawrenson and Jonathan Pearce were simply expressing their own views on what they could see at the moment in time. As the incident was unfolding, Mark expressed his criticism for those who ran onto the pitch, but shortly after he pointed out that the majority of the Villa fans who remained in the stands were booing the fans on the pitch as they felt they were ruining the win for everyone else. Mark and Jonathan didn’t state that those on the pitch were only Villa fans, they simply expressed their concerns as the pitch invasion occurred when the game was still in play meaning the referee could still have abandoned the game.

We’re sorry to learn that you’re unhappy with the commentary and we can assure you that our Football production teams are aware of the issues that have been raised.

Thanks again for contacting us.

Kind regards

BBC Complaints


What this standard letter doesn’t take into account is that most fans complained about the comments made on the final whistle (see our Media Muppets article for quotes), also they have failed to address the Tweet BBC MOTD had made about pitch invasions, that several fans mentioned in their complaint forms.


theres no pitch invasion like an FA Cup


Also, these replies are before the hypocrisy that viewers of the Reading vs Bradford game witnessed, when Reading’s pitch invasion was described as “lovely scenes”. If you haven’t sent in a complaint yet, it’s worth using this hypocrisy as your main example – we’ve gone into more detail in this Media Muppets article.

It’ll be interesting to read what standard reply the BBC come up with for this.

Below is another BBC Complaint reply to a Villa fan, who has obviously centred what he said on the BBC’s news coverage, the part the BBC played in the kick-off time and also the fact the WBA fan’s vandalism had gone unreported while Villa fans were vilified.

While, it’s full of niceties, interestingly, the BBC’s reply does pass the buck to the FA on the time slot and like the other reply, stresses that issues from complaints are passed on to the relevant department.

BBC Complaints Reply 2

Thank you for taking the time to contact us.

I was sorry to read you have been unhappy with BBC News of late. I understand you feel our coverage of Aston Villa’s FA Cup victory over West Brom on March 7 has been impartial. I further appreciate you believe the BBC must take a share of the responsibility for the subsequent pitch invasion due to the scheduling of the game’s kick-off time.

To address your concerns; it is not always possible or practical to reflect all the different opinions on a subject within individual bulletins or programmes. We seek to ensure that over a reasonable period, all sides of any public debate are explored and explained, so listeners can be better informed in coming to their own judgment of an issue. The BBC does not seek to denigrate any view, nor to promote any view. It seeks rather to identify all significant views, and to test them rigorously and fairly on behalf of the audience.

The behaviour of the travelling West Brom support has been highlighted throughout our coverage. As the FA has launched an investigation into the behaviour of both sets of fans, we believe our level of coverage has been fair and appropriate.

Whilst I appreciate your concerns in regard to kick-off times, broadcasters are offered dates and times for the matches from which they can chose. We are sorry to learn that you are unhappy with the situation, however ultimate responsibility for the dates and times which are made available to broadcasters for all the matches rests with the FA as the sport’s governing body.

Rest assured, we do value your feedback. All complaints are sent to senior management and I included your points in this overnight report. These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC and ensures that your concerns have been seen by the right people quickly. This helps inform their decisions about current and future programmes.

Once again, many thanks for contacting us.

Kind regards

Brian Irvine

BBC Complaints


If you haven’t had your say to the BBC yet, please do so:  – Select ‘Television’, then ‘BBC1′, then ‘Live FA Cup Coverage’

People often complain about supporters not having a voice, but by acting together we can have, or at the very least, make some waves.

You’ll notice the BBC commentators stayed clear of commenting on the actual pitch invasion at the end of the Reading vs Bradford game, leaving Gary Lineker to declare them ‘lovely scenes’. Maybe that was all our influence? UTV

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