Published On: Tue, Dec 19th, 2017

'BBC cannot hide its bias' Fury over BBC Question Time's Brexit coverage

The analysis seen by the Daily Express shows that BBC Question Time had 85 Remainers on its panel between January and July 2017 compared to just 36 Brexit supporters, even though leaving the EU has dominated most of the discussions.

From the 24 shows only one had a majority of Leave supporters and 22 had a majority of Remainers.

Two shows did not feature any Brexit supporters at all and had five Remainers.

The analysis is the basis of a complaint to the watchdog Ofcom and has highlighted growing concerns over BBC bias with analysis of the Today programme earlier this year revealing that Remainers are more often invited to give their views.

A report last year by the group News-Watch revealed that the Radio 4 Today Programme had two and a half times as many Remain speakers as Leave supporters.

Tory MP Peter Bone, who founded the Brexit campaign group Grassroots Out, said: “I’m afraid this again shows that the BBC is simply institutionally biased against Brexit.

“Question Time is the worst of the lot. Because it is a panel it cannot hide its bias against Brexit because you can see who has been invited.

“I’ve always been surprised that as one of the founders of a major Brexit campaign group I have never been invited on Question Time even though I have done lots of other broadcast media.”

Ofcom has ruled against the complaint because most of the shows had one Brexit voice.

The watchdog said that impartiality does not mean Question Time does not have to have a balanced panel.

Regarding the two shows in Oxford and Salford with no Leave supporters on the panel, it said one dealt solely with the Manchester terrorist attack and did not deal with Brexit, while it claimed in the other First Secretary Damian Green, who has said he would vote Remain given another chance, counted as a Leave voice because he was supporting government policy.

Ofcom noted: “Damian n Green disagreed with various statements that were supportive of a Remain position. He said most people had not changed their mind since voting in the 2016 EU Referendum (“the referendum”), and although he was part of the referendum campaign for Remain, he respected democracy and the referendum outcome.”

The complainant Gavin Hunt, a member of the public who has also made complaints about anti-Brexit bias in Newsnight, expressed disappointment in the finding.

He said: “It would be splendid if the everyday meaning of impartiality could be enforced by a truly Independent Body, with the regulatory clout to police our state broadcaster.”

A BBC spokesman said: “Question Time is not a single issue programme and panellists are expected to address a range of subjects each week.

“Industry regulator, Ofcom was clear in its judgement that the programme’s approach to guest selection is consistent with the requirements of the broadcasting code.”

Daily Express :: News Feed