Labour chief protests to BBC over TV news 'bias'

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The Independent Online
BBC TELEVISION'S reporting of the ERM crisis, the Government climbdown on school tests and the VAT on fuel controversy has stung Labour into a protest to John Birt, the corporation's director-general, writes Patricia Wynn Davies.

A letter from David Hill, the party's director of communications, complains that Labour was effectively 'denied a voice' throughout Sunday and Monday's coverage of the topics.

Mr Hill has also lodged a protest with ITN, but singles out the BBC for heaviest criticism, claiming that now that Parliament is in recess it has abandoned political balance.

He said yesterday that Labour had fielded spokespeople on each issue. 'I am pretty incensed. I am getting my strike in early . . . if you allow these matters to drift the average citizen will in time be saying to themselves, 'Where's the Labour Party?' '

He said dissenting voices during Sunday's broadcasts were confined to figures from the Tory party - Sir Edward Heath on the ERM and Angela Browning, MP for Tiverton, on VAT. Monday's bulletins on the ERM used Kenneth Clarke, Norman Lamont and 'sundry other Tories', the letter adds, 'but again, we were totally