Representatives of Countryfile Live! have denied that it is anti- shooting after it was revealed that gunmakers and gunshops are banned from the event.
The show, a spin-off from the BBC’s Countryfile TV series, is being held at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire in August, at the time of year and location of the old CLA Game Fair, which was one of the most important events in the shooting calendar for more than half a century.
Drew Boxall, engineering and communications director at British gunmakers Boxall & Edmiston, last month reported that he had been in contact with Countryfile Live! organisers about providing gunmaking demonstrations at the show, and they initially agreed.
But even after reaching an understanding that no guns would be sold, Mr Boxall said the organisers repeatedly changed their mind, citing a breach of the BBC’s advertising guidelines. These state that advertising should not be “misleading, harmful or offensive” and include “weapons and gun clubs” among categories that the broadcaster is prohibited to advertise.
Mr Boxall countered: “It is unfair of the BBC to use one of their most popular TV shows to create a game fair, that will undoubtedly be a success, and then exclude an entire industry from attending.
“The BBC’s definition and part of their justification is almost slanderous to some parts of the shooting industries and demonstrates a distinct lack of understanding,” he continued.
He further suggested that the inability of some firms to advertise at the show could cost them valuable trade: “With the marketing power of the BBC and their flagship show, Countryfile Live! will undoubtedly be a success and draw major crowds. The decision will affect small businesses, who rely on shows to promote and sell their products.”
But a spokesperson for BBC Worldwide reassured Shooting Times that it understands the importance of shooting, and it was simply bound by its guidelines: “Countryfile Live! is a commercial event that is produced by SME London under licence from BBC Worldwide.
As such, the event must adhere to current BBC Worldwide and BBC guidelines. As a long- standing policy, it is against BBC guidelines for any of their products or services to carry advertising for guns and this includes exhibitors at live events.
“However, we understand that guns are a part of country life and a hugely important part of farming and rural life, and as such they will feature in the editorial content at the event.”
The BBC clarified that a number of live shows in the Central Ring at the event will feature guns and noted that representatives from shooting groups including BASC and the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation would also have stands at the show.
The BBC spokesperson continued: “So to be very clear, shooting and guns will be represented at the show, but due to the policies described we are unable to include gunmakers or shooting-related exhibits in a commercial capacity.”