Election 2017

General election: Greens complain about BBC's UKIP coverage

Jonathan Bartley Image copyright PA
Image caption The Greens say 150,000 people voted for them, compared to fewer than 100,000 for UKIP

The Green Party has accused the BBC of breaching impartiality guidelines by giving "disproportionate coverage" to UKIP during the local elections.

The Greens won 40 seats in last week's elections, compared with UKIP, which lost 145 of its 146 seats.

They are also angry that UKIP's leader, but not theirs, will feature in two prime time pre-election programmes.

A BBC spokesman said it was not aware of any formal complaints "but if we receive one, we would respond then".

BBC guidelines state that Green Party coverage should be "proportionate to the larger parties" and "more than those parties with less evidence of past or current electoral support or fewer candidates".

But the spokesman argued that "UKIP's losses were a significant story to the public and it was right for us to cover this".

He said guidelines say that during elections "news judgements continue to drive editorial decision-making in news-based programmes."

The guidelines also point out, he said, that the Greens in England and Wales "have less evidence of electoral support over different sorts of elections across two electoral cycles than Labour, Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and UKIP".

The Greens fielded a record number of candidates in the local elections, but co-leader Jonathan Bartley said with few exceptions, most of the BBC's coverage "failed to report the Green Party's results, while giving disproportionate coverage to UKIP".

"While UKIP makes cheap attempts to win headlines with blatantly Islamophobic policies, Greens are out making a difference to their local communities and this contrast was made clear in Friday's election results," he said.

"The Green Party is making gains across the country - from the Orkney Islands to the Isle of Wight - and it's only fair we're given proportionate coverage by our national broadcaster."

Mr Bartley said it was also "beyond a joke" that the BBC had decided Mr Nuttall would be interviewed by Andrew Neil in one of a series of prime time election programmes in the week of 22 May.

In addition the UKIP leader will be the subject of an Election Question Time programme on BBC 1 on 4 June.

The Greens will be taking part in a seven-way BBC election debate on 31 May in Cambridge, and a Newsbeat Youth debate in Manchester on 6 June.

But Mr Bartley said: "The BBC's love affair with UKIP is getting embarrassing. It's time it recognised that the Green Party is entitled to a fair hearing in its election programming."

The BBC spokesman commented: "Our coverage is duly impartial, but in any given day editorial judgements will be made about what the most significant story is.

"That also takes into account past electoral support over two electoral cycles, as set out by Ofcom, and not just the recent local election results. "