Bangla TV has been pulled up by media regulator, Ofcom after it received a complaint that a news item promoted Rushanara Ali, the prospective Labour Party candidate standing for re-election to Parliament in the Bethnal Green and Bow constituency in the 2017 General Election.
Although this news item dealt with the forthcoming June 2017 General Election, it was broadcast before 3rd May 2017, the date when the ‘election period’ for that election had started.
Bangla TV said that it “covered series of news items and stories” from the day of announcement of the General Election to Election Day. It explained that “as per our editorial policy we tried our level best to ensure impartial coverage of all candidates in the election”.
The Licensee argued that the news report “concentrated on Bow and Bethnal Green Labour Party candidate Ms. Rushanara Ali’s activities” but also included “comment of the day by Conservative Party Leader Theresa May, Liberal Democrat Party Leader Tim Farron and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon”.
Bangla TV said that at the time of the broadcast, neither the Conservative Party nor the Liberal Democrat Party had announced their candidates for the Bethnal Green and Bow constituency. It added that Independent candidate Mr Ajmal Masroor announced his candidature in the first week of May 2017. Therefore, the Licensee argued that it was not possible to include other candidates’ comments in the news item or “mention their profile”.
Bangla TV said that it did broadcast “a detail[ed] news report on Mr. Ajmal Masroor on 9th May 2017”. It further added that in spite of “repeated request[s] from our news team”, the “Conservative Candidate for Bow and Bethnal Green failed to give us any schedule” to be interviewed. It argued however that during the election coverage period it broadcast several news reports “reflecting views and opinion of Conservative Party local and national leaders”.
In summary, Bangla TV said that it believed the news report it broadcast needed “to be considered as part of our election coverage from the date of announcement of election to the Election Day”. The Licensee added that it has “sufficient reason to believe that our news team was aware and sincerely tried to comply with” Rule 5.1 of the Code.
Ofcom considered that Bangla TV could not rely on a news item broadcast 10 days later as a means of preserving due impartiality in this case. In this instance, Ofcom therefore concluded that alternative views were not appropriately reflected to ensure due impartiality was maintained. Our Decision was therefore that the news item was in breach of Rule 5.1.
Bangla TV has been off-air in the UK for several days.