After reading the latest petition update and the response from the BBC Director General to two emails asking that Still Loved be given the wider audience it deserves I have submitted my own complaint.
I have been careful to be respectful, factual and challenge the two stated reasons for refusal. I am constrained by word limit so it’s not quite what I would have normally written but it is a start and hopefully a chance for the BBC to reconsider or at least clarify its position given its seeming contradictory nature and Catch 22 features.
I have seen the two responses from Tony Hall to two parents (one film maker) and their attempts to get a documentary on stillbirth screened on the BBC.
The responses provide two reasons for refusal:
1) “the stark depiction of infant mortality would make it very difficult for us to show it in its present form.”
2) “…strict rules about the ways our output can be financed and it won’t be possible for us to broadcast this film because of the way it was funded. Our impartiality guidelines do not allow us to show programmes which have received funding from charities who have an interest in the subject matter
I will take these two points in turn.
1) The BBC has shown itself willing to show stark depictions of infant mortality in popular (and critically acclaimed) shows like EastEnders and Call the Midwife. The BBC frequently covers distressing material with a pre-show warning to enable viewers to make an informed choice. Why not for a non-fiction documentary? The BBC itself has covered stillbirth in (radio) documentaries and in news reports and the need to break the silence around the damaging stigma and taboo of stillbirth. The BBC has the potential to break the silence and reach a wider audience of parents, family members and medical professionals. October will see Baby Loss Awareness Week, a perfect opportunity to break the silence.
2) With that restriction effectively the BBC is saying that unless it makes a show on the subject matter it would never show a film like this. This film relied on support from charities and families like mine precisely because it couldn’t secure funding from normal sources because of the exact taboo the film seeks to address! Charities such as Sands have been involved in your own shows before to ensure authenticity & as helplines for related shows.
I ask that you reconsider this decision. Watch the film. If you can’t, read my review to get a sense of it.
I will update if I hear more. If you haven’t already done so please sign the petition.