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MPs Demand New BBC Code of Conduct After Research Exposes Anti-Brexit Bias

People leave the BBC building, in the corporation's West London headquarters, 21 March 2005.
CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty
JACK MONTGOMERY

Parliamentarians from Britain’s leading parties have demanded the BBC end its anti-Brexit bias, or face being hauled before media regulators.

A cross-party group of MPs including Philip Davies from the Conservative Party, Kate Hoey from Labour, and Ian Paisley Jr from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) confronted News and Current Affairs Director James Harding over the publicly-funded broadcaster’s tendency to put a negative slant on its Brexit coverage, and to report any good news for the economy as having come about “despite” Brexit.

https://twitter.com/ianpaisleymp/status/882192684890411008

One of the group told The Sun newspaper: “This [meeting] was about how we make sure there is a more positive light put on Brexit over the next two years. The main thing is looking for a code of practice or new guidelines to ensure that the BBC is impartial.”

Jacob-Rees Mogg, a long-time Brexit supporter and popular Tory backbencher, commented that, “The BBC was good prior to the referendum – but it has been extraordinarily bad afterwards.”

Part of the reason for this discrepancy may be explained by an article penned for the Radio Times by Nick Robinson, a presenter and former political editor for the corporation.

“The referendum is over,” declared Robinson. “The duty we broadcasters had to ‘broadly balance’ the views of the two sides is at an end.”

The 53-year-old had been responding to another representation to his employer by parliamentarians in March 2017, complaining of the excessively “pessimistic” tone of its coverage, as well as the tendency to portray Brexit Britain as a “xenophobic” country.

An analysis of post-referendum programming on BBC Radio 4 found that listeners were around 2.5 times more likely to hear from an EU loyalist than a Brexit supporter.

News Watch highlighted issues with the ‘Brexit Collection’ series on iPlayer, which contained “5 hours 20 minutes of programming [which] were strongly anti-Brexit, contained unchallenged predictions that civil unrest and rioting were now on the horizon, and cast the ‘Out’ vote in negative terms, inferring that the result had been a consequence of racism and xenophobia”.

Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery

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