Steve - I'm reading your post carefully. You said "being presented in an imperfect way on national media when I know there are hundreds who could do a better job"
But - the devil's advocate would reply - there is no-one, not one single person on God's earth who CAN do a better job.
Why? Because Later did not want any of the hundreds who could do it better (though actually you mean DIFFERENTLY, if you did but know it). They wanted the Unthanks themselves to perform as the Unthanks, doing Unthanks material in the Unthank style. And that's what they got.
You seem to be perilously close to suggesting (forgive me if I'm wrong - but I'm getting a very strong impression) that because the girls come from a traditional music background and play SOME trad music in a traditional style, then somehow they are representing the values and material and musical styling that you, as a (very honourable and knowledgeable, I'm sure) champion of traditional music would espouse.
They do not represent anything - except themselves, and nor should they have to. They're doing their own thing, because it's a free country. Those trad songs are in the public domain, so after that it comes down to merit by force majeure - aka The Peter Principle. (Hell if that attitude had won out in the 60's we'd have had no revival, never mind all the rest that's come since).
Later did not say to themselves; 'Ok, we need to book a folk act - what band best represents the type of music that that fellow Steve Gardham calls folk. Aha! I know - The Unthanks. Let's book them because they are proper folk.'
If they had, it might be reasonable for you to get on the blower and say, hang on, I'd rather you booked someone else.
They booked the Unthanks because they wanted the Unthanks. THEY think they're good, and they believed the Later audience would like them - and I get the feeling that the audience did. I certainly did.
Yes we'd all like there to be a lot more slots on TV and radio where folk, folky, folkish, folk-like, hyphen-folk type acts could strut their stuff. But carping about who is 'allowed' to perform in the few slots that do exist is missing the point. We all have to work from the status quo. The Unthanks have - to their enormous credit - got to a place where they're on that shortlist - and none of us has any right to say they do not deserve to be. (Say we don't like them, yes, but not that they don't deserve to be there -see the difference?)
And you never know, maybe, the producers will say - hmm loved those Northumbrian Girls, lets see if there's anything else a bit more hard-core next time. You see? That would be good, wouldn't it? But if there had been no Unthanks, the producers might never have got into that vibe. It's a possibility, no?
Tom Cup Always More Than Half Full Bliss (note the surname - that's why they called us that back in the 12th century and it's stuck).