The BBC has become caught in a row between the Conservatives and the government, after the Tories accused Labour of “intentionally” tacking the forthcoming Hartlepool by-election on to the end of its annual conference, in a bid to maximise the media attention it would get during the period.
Conservative Party chairman, Liam Fox, and shadow home secretary, David Davis, have written to BBC chairman Michael Grade this week inquiring how the corporation intended to fulfil its obligation as a public service broadcaster, by giving parties equal coverage in the run-up to the by-election.
“The BBC has been put in a very difficult situation,” Fox said. “On the one hand they have a public service broadcasting duty to make sure the public see coverage of the political party conferences, but on the other, they have to meet the requirements of the Representation of the People Act, giving impartial broadcasting in the run up to an election.”
In the letter, also sent to broadcast regulator Ofcom, the two senior Tories said: “The Government has set the date of the by-election, no doubt intentionally, to make sure the public are unable to hear the Conservatives’ policies and arguments before voting in the Hartlepool by election – which is nothing more than a blatant attempt to manipulate the voters and the media.”
By Wale´ Azeez