Members of the Workers Party, including a number of their Assembly candidates, have staged a protest outside the BBC Headquarters to highlight the suppression of alternative political views during the current election camapign..
The Electoral Commission and the BBC have agreed between them that to qualify for an election broadcast a party has to stand a minimum of twelve candidates in at least six constituencies – effectively putting a price tag on political airtime and also ensuring that the larger, better financed, parties can perpetuate the political circus without serious challenge or alternative views being aired.
The minimal coverage of smaller parties is further compounded by BBC guidelines whihc at the last election saw candidates from smaller parties interviewed in the staff canteen rather than in studio.
A letter from the BBC to the Workers Party confirmed that the airtime they have been allocated for the election camapign amounted to 25 seconds, aired a month before polling day.
Ironically, during the past week BBC NI has found time to air a number of ‘news’ items including stories about a dog driving a tractor ( 30 seconds), runaway rhododendron in Co Kerry (38 seconds) and the worlds biggest Jaffa cake (2 mins 24 secs).
The BBC and the Electoral Commissions’s approach to elections in Northern Ireland is now deeply disturbing.
Alternative views are sidelined, financial constraints are placed on access to public service broadcasting and the political status quo goes effectively unchallenged as a media class seeks to dictate what the political discourse should be.
The Party plans to meet with both the BBC and the Electoral Commission after polling next Thursday.