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Confirmed: BBC NI’s live Twelfth parade coverage axed as letter sent to Orange Order explains decision

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BBC headquarters in Belfast

BBC headquarters in Belfast

BBC headquarters in Belfast

The BBC has confirmed it has decided to axe live coverage of the Twelfth of July parade in Belfast.

The Grand Secretary of the Orange Order and the leader of the DUP were informed of the move on Thursday.

Last night a BBC NI spokesperson said no final decision had been taken about programming.

However a letter was sent to Rev Mervyn Gibson and Sir Jeffrey Donaldson this morning revealing plans to substitute live coverage with an extended night time highlight show.

BBC NI interim director Adam Smyth said the one hour show – covering eight events – is part of efforts “to better and more fully reflect” the Twelfth.

“We know that our decision not to resume live television coverage of the Belfast demonstration may be disappointing for some people and have made this decision after careful consideration and based on all usual editorial considerations,” the letter states.

“We will also want to explore how we can make audiences aware of other BBC programmes about the Orange tradition, coinciding with this year’s 12 July programming and will confirm these and other broadcast details shortly.”

Mr Smyth insisted the public funded broadcaster recognises the importance of the Twelfth and Orange Order events.

“This is something we will properly reflect within our output, seeking to describe and explain the significance of what is happening and make it more generally accessible including to those with other backgrounds and beliefs,” he added.

The letter also praised the Orange Order for helping production staff over the years and expressed a desire to continue good relations.

“We hope that this is something that the Institution will feel able to facilitate helping BBC staff in their efforts to capture the colour, diversity and importance of these events.”

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