Broadcast regulator Ofcom has ruled that an LBC radio phone-in, which featured Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and was hosted by Labour London Mayor Sadiq Khan, came close to breaching impartiality rules.
It has also pushed for a meeting with the radio show’s bosses to go through its use of guest phone-in presenters.
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Ofcom said it was particularly concerned about a political party leader being interviewed by a senior politician of the same party.
Khan was one of five politicians and journalists that took over the James O’Brien slot in late October last year, hosting a three-hour programme on 27 October 2017.
In the closing segment of his slot, the Khan hosted a public phone-in and interview with Corbyn.
Three complainants took issue with the programme and reported concerns to Ofcom, with one suggesting it amounted to a “party political broadcast”.
Ofcom found that the LBC broadcast did not breach impartiality rules, but noted that the show “strayed close” to the edge of the rule book.
It said: “We are concerned by some of the aspects of the Phone-in with Mr Corbyn which was chaired by Mr Khan.
“In particular, we highlight that a format where the leader of a political party is questioned by a senior member of the same party carries a risk of the leader being able to set out his views on policy matters largely unchallenged.
“In such circumstances, it is the broadcaster’s responsibility to ensure that due impartiality is preserved.
“We therefore remind LBC, and other broadcasters, that in circumstances where the interviewee and the chair are from the same political party, it is important that the licensee takes particular care to ensure that other viewpoints are appropriately represented within the programme.”
LBC argued that the hosts stepping in for regular presenter O’Brien in the week beginning 23 October covered a range of political allegiances.
The other stand-in hosts were Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, Labour MP Chuka Umunna and political journalists Robert Peston and Kevin Maguire.
LBC also argued that many of those phoning in to ask questions of Corbyn were critical of the Islington North MP. Ofcom said it felt he was not challenged as much as he might have been in normal circumstances.