EXCL Nearly half of bias complaints during election were against the BBC

Posted On: 
27th July 2017

Almost half of the media bias allegations lodged during the general election were levelled at the BBC - but every single one was dismissed by regulators, PoliticsHome can reveal.

Tim Farron and Jeremy Corbyn on the BBC's seven-way leaders debate during the election campaign
Credit: 
PA Images

The broadcaster faced 336 allegations of political bias out of a total 718 registered with watchdog Ofcom between 18 April - when Theresa May called the snap election - and polling day.

But the BBC - which enjoys the widest output and largest audience - insisted impartiality was the “cornerstone” of its news output.

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Figures obtained by PoliticsHome through a Freedom of Information request show BBC One faced 199 complaints during the election campaign, while BBC Two attracted 43.

There were 24 complaints about BBC News channels and 21 about Radio 4’s coverage.

But Ofcom said: “After carefully assessing the complaints and the broadcast material, Ofcom did not identify any issues which warranted further investigation under its rules.”

A BBC spokesperson told PoliticsHome: “Impartiality is the cornerstone of BBC News and it is one of the reasons the public trust the BBC the most.

“Our job during the election was to scrutinise on behalf of the public so that our audiences have clear and impartial information about the issues that mattered to them.

“Whilst Ofcom have said none warranted investigation it is not unexpected to see an upturn in complaints during an election when strong opinions are being expressed by all sides.”

A spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn said: "In the general election, broadcasting regulations kicked in, resulting in significantly more balanced coverage.

“As a result, Labour and Jeremy were more able to speak in our own voice, in a less filtered way, bypassing the heavily biased print media and political commentators. Millions like what they've heard."

But a BBC source said: “At all times we hold all political leaders to account in the same way by asking the tough questions the public expect to be asked and reporting impartially.”

The BBC accounts for about 70% of TV news coverage and holds a market dominance in its radio output, according to Ofcom figures from 2011.

BIAS ALLEGATIONS

Elsewhere, Channel 4 faced 144 complaints of political bias, Sky News and other Sky outlets attracted 71, while ITV saw 85 complaints about its output.

PoliticsHome revealed yesterday that ‘May v Corbyn Live: the Battle for Number 10’ - broadcast simultaneously on Sky News and Channel 4 - attracted the most bias allegations of any show during the campaign.