BBC's Kennel Club ruling postponed

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The Independent Online

Broadcasting regulator Ofcom has postponed a ruling over a controversial documentary about the Kennel Club after the BBC raised concerns over the watchdog's investigation.

Ofcom had been due to present its findings yesterday, but it is understood the broadcaster made contact with the watchdog over the way the investigation into Pedigree Dogs Exposed had been handled by the regulator.

An inquiry was launched following complaints that the programme, aired last August, treated the Kennel Club unfairly.

Pedigree Dogs Exposed claimed Crufts allowed damaging breeding practices which caused disease and deformities and resulted in a high level of genetic illness.

But it said unhealthy dogs were still able to compete in shows and had gone on to win "best in breed".

The Kennel Club condemned many of the programme's assertions as "far from accurate."

It later complained about the "unfair treatment and editing" and the "failure to fairly and properly reflect the Kennel Club's deep commitment to the health and and welfare of dogs."

Weeks later, it lodged a complaint with Ofcom which was due to publish its ruling yesterday, before the BBC asked for new evidence to be considered.

The row sparked such controversy at the time that the broadcaster pulled its long-standing coverage of Crufts.

A spokesman for the regulator said: "Very late in the day the BBC raised a process point about new evidence. As a responsible regulator we have to consider what they say.

"Having considered it, a decision will be made and published as soon as possible."

The Kennel Club said it had now lost confidence in the watchdog.

Ronnie Irving, Kennel Club chairman, said: "While we appreciate the obligations which have to be observed by any regulator, we have to admit a loss of confidence in the Ofcom complaints process.

"Not only is it taking a very long time to be resolved - the programme was aired nearly 15 months ago - but it seems to us extraordinary that on the proposed day of the publication of Ofcom's findings, the BBC intervened at such a very late stage.

"We feel bewildered and aggrieved by this recent development. The Ofcom process should be there to protect a legitimate complainant's position.

"We must trust that Ofcom will make its final determination as a matter of urgency."

The BBC declined to comment.