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11 May, 2019 10:23

BBC suddenly pulls comedy show over ‘election bias’ about politician not running in election

BBC suddenly pulls comedy show over ‘election bias’ about politician not running in election

The BBC confused viewers by suddenly pulling an episode of a popular news-based comedy show just 20 minutes before airing over impartiality concerns about the European elections, even though the MP on the show isn’t running.

The broadcaster said it was concerned the Have I Got News For You show was infringing on its impartiality for the upcoming European elections, because one of the guests was Change UK leader and MP Heidi Allen, who isn’t contesting the elections.

Have I Got News For You appeared baffled by the decision, tweeting that the BBC had pulled the episode because they had booked “a member of a party no-one knows the name of (not even the people in it), because the Euro elections, which nobody wants, may or may not be happening.”

The current affairs comedy panel show even joked about the recently-fired BBC radio host Danny Baker, saying that he wasn’t a guest on the show.

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“The BBC has specific editorial guidelines that apply during election periods,” the broadcaster said in a statement. “Because of this it would be inappropriate to feature political party leaders on entertainment programmes during this short election period, which does not allow for equal representation to be achieved.”

Broadcasting regulator Ofcom states candidates in elections or representatives of those candidates cannot appear as “news presenters, interviewers or presenters of any type of programme during the election period.”

Have I Got News For You is made by an outside production company and is filmed in advance. Allen apparently checked with the show and was told her appearance wouldn’t be a problem.

The BBC decision was met with confusion on Twitter. A number pointed out that MEP Nigel Farage of the Brexit party had appeared on Have I Got News For You before an election in 2014, and that he was recently on BBC’s Question Time.

Many were unimpressed by the program that was aired instead, Mrs Brown’s Boys, though one Twitter user joked its unpopularity could unite the country.

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