How balanced is the BBC’s Question Time?

by Stephen Tall on February 4, 2008

That’s the question LDV posed in last Thursday’s Open Thread on the programme. It was prompted not only by the absence of a Lib Dem on the panel, but also by the appearance of a second Tory-in-all-but-name, Amanda Platell, alongside former Tory chancellor, Ken Clarke (as well as former Tory MP, and now New Labour cabinet minister, Shaun Woodward).

So what?, you might ask. And fair enough, except that this was the fourth consecutive QT in which a Tory-aligned commentator has been signed up to appear alongside the official Tory representative. Ms Platell followed in the stilettos of Sarah Sands (former Sunday Telegraph editor), Louise Bagshaw (Tory PPC) and Kirstie Allsopp (Tory celebrity).

Andrew Hinton took up the cudgels on behalf of the Lib Dems, and has published his findings here. They show that the BBC is pretty scrupulous in ensuring balance on QT between official representatives of the three main political parties. What’s less clear, though, is whether the BBC is quite as careful in ensuring balance between those it selects to be the non-politicians on the panel. Would the BBC, for instance, put up Sandi Toksvig alongside a Lib Dem MP?

(Amusingly, those terribly sane folk at the Biased-BBC blog have managed, who knows how, to accuse Auntie of stuffing QT’s panels with “foaming-at-the mouth lefties”. Bless.)

Anyway, if you have complaints about the media coverage of the Lib Dems, don’t just write a comment on the LDV public blog, or the members-only forum, complain to the folk responsible:

BBC – T: 08700 100 222, www.bbc.co.uk/complaints
Sky News – www.sky.com/skynews/feedback/enquiry, E: viewer@skynews.com
ITN – T: 020 7833 3000, E: viewer_liaisonC3@itn.co.uk
Channel 4 – T: 020 7396 4444, E: viewerenquiries@channel4.co.uk