TELEVISION: ITC rejects complaints about election broadcasts

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Commercial television's watchdog has ruled that an "interventionist approach" by interviewers is necessary when dealing with experienced politicians, and has thrown out a series of complaints from viewers about "offensive" party election broadcasts.

The Independent Television Commission turned down complaints about Sue Lawley's treatment of Michael Heseltine on ITV 500 - The People's Election, two days before the general election, when John Major was the only party leader not to turn up, as arranged, to answer questions from a studio audience. Eight viewers complained that Ms Lawley had been rude and had interrupted Mr Heseltine too often, but the ITC ruled that her approach had been necessary to control the programme.

The ITC has also ruled against 87 viewers who complained about various aspects of the British National Party's election broadcast. Many of the complaints were about the BNP broadcast showing identifiable members of ethnic minorities in the street and showing a multi-racial school in the East End of London.

A series of conflicting complaints about the Pro-life Alliance's election broadcast were similarly rejected. Some viewers complained before it was shown because they were worried about it being banned. Others complained after it was shown about the editing out of a sequence on abortions while others complained about it being shown at all. Paul McCann