The BBC will not be broadcasting Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday celebrations next year after the rights were instead awarded to its commercial rival ITV.
The move has surprised many as the BBC, which is Britain’s state broadcaster, is often seen as the natural choice for royal events and other national celebrations, the Daily Mail reports.
The corporation’s coverage of royal events has received criticism in recent years, however, with its presentation of 2012’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations described as “inane”, “dumbed down” and “mind-numbingly tedious”. It receiving nearly 5,000 complaints.
The BBC’s professionalism was also called into question after it incorrectly referred to the Queen as “Her Royal Highness” rather than “Her Majesty”, a mistake that would have been unthinkable in previous generations.
The Queen was also reportedly angered in by the BBC in 2007 when it edited a documentary to make it look like she stormed out of a photoshoot after being asked to remove her crown. The BBC later apologised.
Describing the planned 90th birthday celebrations as “a spectacular set piece national event to celebrate a truly remarkable life” yesterday, producer and director Simon Brooks-Ward side-stepped questions as to why the event had not been given to the BBC.
“We have worked with ITV in the past. We have complete confidence in ITV’s ability and we are looking forward to working with ITV.”
The loss of a major royal event will come as a blow to the BBC as the future of the TV licence fee remains in doubt following the appointment of arch-critic John Whittingdale as Culture Secretary earlier this week.
His appointment comes after the corporation was accused of left-wing bias during the recent election campaign, and during the previous government’s time in office. Prime Minister David Cameron referred to it as the “British Broadcasting Cuts” due its sometimes obsessive focus on the negative effects of the government’s spending reductions and welfare reforms.
Next year’s celebrations will receive no taxpayers’ money, with the entire cost being met by private sponsors such as supermarket chain Waitrose and car manufacturer Janguar/Land Rover, as well as ticket sales.