Ofcom rejects unfairness complaint over BBC NI’s election coverage

·1-min read
The BBC insisted its coverage plans were in line with Ofcom requirements and its own election guidelines (Ian West/PA) (PA Archive)
The BBC insisted its coverage plans were in line with Ofcom requirements and its own election guidelines (Ian West/PA) (PA Archive)

Broadcasting regulator Ofcom has rejected a complaint by the NI Green Party over the BBC’s coverage of its election campaign.

The Greens had accused the corporation of giving undue prominence to the Traditional Unionist Voice party.

Party leader Clare Bailey claimed the BBC had given the TUV more exposure despite the fact that it only had one seat in the last Assembly mandate and the Greens had two.

Clare Bailey, leader of the Green Party Northern Ireland (Michael Cooper/PA) (PA Wire)
Clare Bailey, leader of the Green Party Northern Ireland (Michael Cooper/PA) (PA Wire)

The BBC insisted its coverage plans were in line with Ofcom requirements and its own election guidelines.

The corporation told the regulator that its coverage allocation was not based solely on past election results, but also factored in opinion polling data related to the current election.

The TUV has polled higher than the Greens in several pre-election surveys of voter intentions.

Publishing its ruling on the complaint on Thursday, Ofcom said it was satisfied with the approach the BBC had adopted.

TUV party leader Jim Allister (Liam McBurney/PA) (PA Wire)
TUV party leader Jim Allister (Liam McBurney/PA) (PA Wire)

An Ofcom spokesman said: “Following careful consideration, Ofcom’s Election Committee has not upheld a complaint from the Green Party Northern Ireland about the BBC’s pre-election coverage.

“The committee was satisfied, among other things, that the weight placed by the BBC on opinion poll evidence was reasonable.

“It also recognised the difficult nature of the editorial decision made by the BBC, where the evidence on past electoral and current support is finely balanced.

“The committee considered that the BBC’s overall approach to coverage of the Green Party Northern Ireland – including the editorial discretion applied when making coverage judgments for different political parties – did not raise issues under our code.”

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