Publication Date: May 2017
Research and Editorial Team: Adrian Renton, Justin Scholsberg

The BBC's coverage of the campaign for the British general election of June 2017 was severely biased in favor of the Conservative Party, a new study argues. The study was carried out by two London-based scholars, Adrian Renton and Justin Schlosberg, and it was published by the Media Reform Coalition. The authors have analyzed the reviews of national newspapers broadcast by the BBC from April 18 to May 21, within the program “The Papers”. The program covers the press on a daily basis, inviting guests as discussants.

The authors first looked at the British newspapers' endorsements for the election and at the political affiliation of guests of "The Papers". Then they analyzed how much time was given to each newspaper and to each guest within the program, and they checked them against the size of electoral support gathered by different parties in the previous general election. In this way, the authors have found out that newspapers and guests supporting the Conservative Party have been given a disproportionately large representation.

Also, the study shows that the broadcast version of “The Papers” has given 69 percent more coverage to the Tories than is balanced, while its digital version (“Papers Blog”) has given 95 percent more coverage. Guests linked to the Conservative Party were given almost twice as much airtime, and only Tory politicians featured as guests of the program. Instead, the British Broadcasting Code and the BBC's Charter call for impartiality and balanced coverage of electoral campaigns.

The evidence of insufficient attention to media pluralism is considered even more worrying by the authors given the relatively high concentration of the British press and its overall tendency to lean towards the Conservative Party.  

Tags: Media pluralism United Kingdom

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