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Channel 4 screens two films attacking the meat industry after making seven-figure investment in vegan firm
- The broadcaster has bought a major stake in the Meatless Farm Company
- Stuart Roberts, of the National Farmers’ Union, hit out over the decision
- He said it ‘significantly undermines trust in journalism’ due to the conflict
Channel 4 has been accused of a massive conflict of interest for screening two films attacking the meat industry after it made a seven-figure investment in a vegan food company.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the broadcaster acquired a sizeable stake in the Meatless Farm Company in September.
Since then it has aired two controversial documentaries on meat farming.
Under fire: Channel 4 has come under fire for screening shows including Apocalypse Cow: How Meat Killed The Planet after making a key investment in a vegan food firm
In the first, Apocalypse Cow: How Meat Killed The Planet, Guardian journalist and eco-activist George Monbiot highlighted the link between the industry and climate change.
A second programme, How To Steal Pigs And Influence People, was accused of glamorising criminal activity by showing vegan activists raiding farms.
Stuart Roberts, of the National Farmers’ Union, said the broadcaster’s investment, made through its commercial growth fund, ‘significantly undermines trust in journalism’.
And Tim Bonner, of the Countryside Alliance, added: ‘There has been increasing concern in the countryside about the aggressive anti-farming agenda being pursued by Channel 4.
‘Their decision to invest in a vegan food company is clumsy and insulting.’
Some Channel 4 staff are also concerned. One told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Whatever happened to us making programmes rather than doing these kind of deals? It’s one big conflict of interest.’
Dorothy Byrne, Channel 4’s head of current affairs, has admitted that bias influences her decisions, boasting in a keynote speech last year: ‘In what other line of work when some b****** annoys you or you hear of some absolute disgrace, can you say to yourself, ‘I’m going to make a programme exposing that and I’ll put a stop to it!’ ‘
Channel 4’s deal gives free advertising airtime to the Meatless Farm Co, which makes ‘vegan friendly’ mince, burgers and sausages, in exchange for equity in the Leeds-based company.
But the broadcaster insisted: ‘Apocalypse Cow and How To Steal Pigs And Influence People are documentaries examining relevant and topical subjects and both comply with Ofcom’s broadcasting code.
‘Channel 4 maintains clear separation between its editorial decisions and commercial activity. There is no conflict of interest.’
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