The SNP has called on the BBC refer itself to independent regulator Ofcom over concerns about audience vetting for its flagship political debate programme.
Concerns were raised by Depute Leader Keith Brown MSP about the political imbalance of the audience on Thursday’s edition of Question Time from Elgin.
Audience members included a former Tory MSP, a number of Tory councillors and local office bearers. Mr Brown said:
“The BBC has a duty not mislead its viewers. The fact is that the BBC’s flagship debate programme, week after week, has elected politicians and political activists masquerading as ordinary members of the public. It seriously undermines the whole ethos of the programme.
“At any time there would be serious questions to answer about credibility, but just days away from the European elections these matters strike at the very heart of the BBC’s ability to fulfil its statutory and elections obligations.
“Question Time should allow members of the public to question politicians.
“Enough is enough. The BBC should refer itself to Ofcom and allow them to undertake an independent review. That’s the only way we’ll get to the heart of whether the individuals identified in the Elgin audience lied on their application forms or whether the BBC knowingly allowed these individuals to masquerade as members of the public.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“I rarely watch Question Time these days, only on the few occasions it ventures north of the border. One gets fed up seeing Nigel Farage on the panel!
“Previously we have seen Question Time from Dundee overrun by Tory activists and elected representatives. Last Thursday was a re-run.
“It’s hardly a secret that the BBC is widely considered to be hostile to the SNP but such seemingly blatant audience rigging is shameful for an allegedly ‘unbiased’ broadcaster. They need to review their audience criteria, if the programme is to be genuinely one which allows engagement between the public and politicians.”
SNP call on BBC to refer itself to Ofcom to allow Question Time probe: