Lights, Camera, Action! – Filming at the Major Pipe Band Championships

By The Editor

We’re a few days out from the next pipe band major, the UKs at Lurgan, Northern Ireland. Prior to the British at Paisley there was considerable huffing and pufffing over the various streaming services that position themselves around the Grade 1 arena. Armed with fancy tripods and some pretty hi-tech equipment (as far as I can judge) they do a good job of bringing the music and excitement to those who can’t manage, or who won’t make the effort to manage, to ringside.

There has been a suggestion that the RSPBA tried to ban such recording. Not true. Yes there is a statement in the ‘match-day’ programme saying that video taping can only be done by permission, but that is there as a protection for the Association should there be any complaint.

Even if they wanted to stop people grabbing their favourites on a mobile phone, they simply could not – weight of numbers, policing etc. The bottom line is the Association are neither endorsing nor condoning such random filming nor those who are intent on recording every performance in a whole grade.

The RSPBA’s stance is appropriate in the circumstances. A child is filmed by one of the internet pipe band sites and the parents complain. The Association’s instinct and natural duty of care would cause concern, but the legal position would be that it had been done without a licence or permission. And in a public space, in a crowd, it is impossible to stop.

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Ah, but what about the Association’s own filming (a great service it has to be said). Here the situation is different. They have control. Should a complaint be registered by any band or individual then they (the Association) have the power to immediately take the offending clip off the airwaves, something they cannot do with private footage.

At the Worlds I always think it a pity that the Juvenile grades are never shown, even when they perform in the Grade 1 arena prior to the big boys and girls. Again it is legal constraint that stops the BBC from doing so. There are several child protection issues and permissions that come into play – a bit of a minefield for the national broadcaster it must be said.


In an ideal world, and away from the Worlds, the RSPBA would film all grades at the majors and position cameras in such a way that there were no crowd scenes – shoot bands and judges only.

It would be a condition of entry that such filming was accepted by the bands. Again Juvenile and Novice grades would have to be ignored, but a problem I envisage could would be when you had an under 18 playing in the adult grades – as we often have with the Northern Ireland bands.

So it might be Grade 1 only with the RSPBA’s dedicated film man Jason Lafferty perched on a cherry picker right above the contest arena and able to home in on the circle. What about that?

Maybe Jason could invite the Ensemble and Piping Judges to clamber aboard to keep him company! At last, a perfect listening stance!

Each would have to be supplied with a complete set of thermals right enough, but that shouldn’t stretch the budget too much. Flesh coloured to be worn under the kilt and complete with corporate logo. Could be a good sales line.

  • Reminder: Entries for the Scottish Championships at Dumbarton on July 27 close today. The draw will be on June 19. More here.

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1 thought on “Lights, Camera, Action! – Filming at the Major Pipe Band Championships

  1. There is no expected right to Privacy in Public. If you are in Public then you can be filmed. So what about under 18 year olds in Grade 1 Bands? This is a whole load of nonsense. No kids are at risk by being filmed when performing, there are much bigger issues. The RSPBA just want the Monopoly on YouTube revenue, I think this was what the whole thing is really all about.

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