Radio chiefs attack 'Newsnight' bias

THE RADIO Authority returned fire on the BBC yesterday accusing its flagship news programme, Newsnight, of "biased, unbalanced and seriously inaccurate" reporting.

The body responsible for regulating the pounds 300m commercial radio sector in Britain said that an investigation by the programme into its award of licences , broadcast on Tuesday, amounted to a "concerted attempt to discredit it".

Newsnight featured an item on the arcane process by which the authority grants radio licences. The piece, made by one of the programme's senior producers, Mary Wilkinson, attempted to articulate the concerns of some in the radio industry that the system is not sufficiently open, and highlighted allegations of malpractice.

t The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising yesterday accused the BBC of imitating ITV with "derivative" shows such as Pets Win Prizes and Noel's House Party. It said such programmes harmed commercial television and broke a 1992 BBC pledge to withdraw programmes that do not extend viewers' choice.