Sunday, 14 May 2017

"We've not caved in to pressure"

For those who object to Samira Ahmed repeated online campaigning for the BBC to pay less attention to UKIP (a party she objects to), this week's edition of Newswatch may not have proved particularly reassuring impartiality-wise, especially given that one of the chosen topics was UKIP's airtime as compared to that of the Green Party. 

Still, despite the denials from the BBC's Head of Newsgathering Jonathan Munro, it does look as if complaining to the BBC can pay off - at least if you're Green Party supporters.

Here's a transcript of the final part of the interview:

Samira Ahmed: The BBC is going to run these special Question Time format programmes, with individual party leaders and a studio audience. At the start of this week, the BBC said the Greens wouldn't be part of this. A lot of viewers complained to Newswatch. Why?  
Jonathan Munro: And they complained to us, too, and I've heard the comments your viewers have made about the Greens. Let me explain the formula we use, not in too much detail. We are obliged by our regulations to take into account the electoral support over two election cycles. That means two general elections, in other words back to 2010, and all the elections that happened in the meantime. So lots of local elections in that time, obviously, and some European elections. If you take all those figures, the UKIP support over that period is significantly greater than the Greens. The Greens have been stable, but very low. UKIP have been up and down and we saw, as you know, a week or so ago, that they didn't do so well in the local elections. But over the seven-year period we are obliged to count, there is a big, big difference. But when you apply that formula to the schedule, the programmes we are actually going to make, we do think in retrospect, actually, that the gap between what UKIP is getting and what the Greens are getting is too great, so we're going to make a change and we've invited the Green party in the last 24 hours to take part in an extra programme on the Election Questions format in the last weekend of the campaign, on June the 4th. They've accepted that and we're really pleased to have that extra programme going into the BBC One schedule.  
Samira Ahmed: So you've either caved in to pressure or you got it wrong. Which is it?  
Jonathan Munro: We've not caved in to pressure. We're not going to cave in to pressure from political parties. We looked at the schedule in retrospect, what we'd lined up, and the differences between the parties. There were two differences, effectively, that the Greens were not included in. One was the Question Time Election Questions programmes, which go out on the last weekend. The other was the series of Andrew Neil interviews, which are going out the week after next on BBC One. So what we've done is we've said to the Green party, we think the gap's too great at the moment, but you can't have equivalence to the other parties because of that electoral support issue. So we've given them, we hope, a really good compromise and an offer that I'm really pleased to say they've accepted.  
Samira Ahmed: Jonathan Munro, thank you. 


  1. They got it wrong, and fixed it after complaints poured in. Typical. The Greens have an MP, that's got to count for something. UKIP doesn't any more, so fair enough.

  2. The the BBC has metrics within it's editorial guidelines for apportioning airtime.
    So it does seem like its giving into an Greens orchestrated campaign.
    #1 Green Party of Scotland is a separate party with different shouldn't be included in the England Wales stats
    #2 UKIP has way more councillors than Greens 300 to 160 and way more MEPs..
    #3 Only disingenuous Greens would count UKIP's defected MP as zero..his voted voted for UKIP not just him.