BNP film protest

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The Independent Online
Anti-racism campaigners demonstrated outside BBC offices last night in protest at the first party political broadcast by the far right- wing British National Party (BNP), which was barred by Channel 4 but run by other channels.

Nearly 200 protesters gathered outside the BBC headquarters at Broadcasting House in central London, with further protests outside regional television offices in Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff and Sheffield.

The BBC also received a "considerable" number of phone calls from people expressing disgust at the film. Protesters were angry the broadcasts, in which the BNP called for repatriation of all non-whites to their "ancestral homelands", were allowed by the BBC, ITV and Channel 5, while Channel 4 banned the broadcast because it said it did not comply with Independent Television Commission codes. Although the BNP qualified for the right to the broadcast because it is fielding more than 50 candidates, protesters said that all channels should have refused to show the election film - which the BNP hopes will give it an air of acceptability - on the grounds that it was offensive and an incitement to racism.

In a last-minute bid to prevent the BNP broadcasts the National Assembly Against Racism passed a letter to the police asking for charges to be brought against the party. A letter was also given to the BBC from the assembly and the Jewish Council for Racial Equality requesting the broadcast be withdraw or postponed until police investigations were completed.

A political election film for Sinn Fein was also broadcast by the BBC last night, but only an edited version after the party lost a High Court battle with BBC lawyers who said it contained potentially libellous clips.