BBC coverage of the papal visit has received criticism for being overly sympathetic and for being too negative.
The number of complaints totalled approximately 750, with 400 complaining that the papal visit received too much airtime and around 170 concerned that the BBC viewed Benedict XVI too favourably.
By contrast, around 200 people complained that the coverage had been excessively critical while over 100 praised the BBC’s coverage.
Sky News, meanwhile, said it had “received many hundreds of comments from viewers around the world praising its coverage of the Pope’s visit”.
In a statement defending its record over the reporting of the visit, the BBC said: “[The papal visit] was of huge historic significance to millions of Catholics and other people in the UK” and that it was “entirely appropriate that the BBC, as the nation’s broadcaster, would provide coverage of the event.”
The BBC recognised that the visit had “divided public opinion and been the subject of much debate” but added that it was “absolutely right for an independent news organisation” to broadcast programmes that raised “issues that have negatively affected the Catholic Church”.
In February earlier this year, speaking to Rome’s Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, the BBC director-general, Mark Thompson, who is also a Catholic, defended the corporation against accusations of prejudice, denying any indications of bias in a question and answer session after the speech.
The BBC said in a statement: “In its news and current affairs coverage of any subject the BBC is always committed to impartiality and accuracy, seeking also to reflect the different sides of any debate. The coverage of the current papal visit was no different, and careful planning went into making sure that we provided the most comprehensive and authoritative coverage for our audiences.”
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