The European Elections: Greens complain of 'neglect' by BBC: Party left out of phone-in programme

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The Independent Online
THE GREEN Party has lodged a formal protest against the BBC, claiming that the party has been marginalised in coverage of the European election campaign.

Particularly annoying for the Greens was the corporation's decision not to field a party representative on Election Call, the 55-minute morning phone-in presented by Jeremy Paxman and running simultaneously on BBC 2 and Radio 5 this week.

The Broadcasting Complaints Commission will consider today whether to entertain the Greens' case, but in the past it has turned away complaints about party political matters.

Yesterday's Election Call featured Plaid Cymru and the Scottish Nationalists. Today will be the turn of the Liberal Democrats, followed by Labour on Thursday, and the Conservatives on Friday.

But in one of several letters from Greens to the BBC, Chris Rose, the party's national election agent, said that the party took 15 per cent of the vote in the 1989 Euro-elections. Last month, in the local council elections, 8.8 per cent of voters in London and 5.2 per cent outside the capital supported Greens in four-or- more cornered contests.

Fighting all 84 seats in Great Britain, the Greens also pointed to the BBC's own guidance, which states: 'No party fighting a substantial proportion of seats, nationally or locally, should be able to claim that its case has been unfairly neglected in such programmes.'

The Greens did get an Election Call slot in the 1992 general election. In a letter to the Greens last week, Tim Gardam, the BBC's head of weekly programmes, confirmed that the party would not get a place on two pre- election editions of Question Time but said its point of view would be represented in other discussion programmes.

'I assure you that your case will not be unfairly neglected, but equally we do not believe this means we are under an obligation to include a Green Party spokesperson in one particular programme,' Mr Gardam wrote. He acknowledged the party's 15 per cent share of the 1989 poll, but said that since then its vote had been 'extremely small'.

A BBC spokeswoman said last night: 'We are only halfway through the campaign and we are confident there will be futher coverage of

the Green Party on BBC national radio and television programmes.'

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