News broadcaster, UK 44 has been rapped by Ofcom after it received two complaints about two programmes, which referred to the Conservative Party and Labour Party, while polls were open on the day of the June 2017 General Election in the UK.
The first programme ‘UK Election’ featured correspondents reporting from around the UK on: voter turnout for the General Election; security at voting booths; and when the election results might be expected. One correspondent, reporting from London, interviewed: a Conservative Party activist, a Labour Party activist; and a journalist. He commented that London was generally considered “a Labour city” and that Channel 44 had found it hard to find Conservative voters there to interview.
The second show ‘News from Westminster’ featured two news presenters reporting on various events including: voter turnout for the General Election; where the party leaders had voted; and the numbers of female and Pakistani candidates standing in the General Election. They also reported that “The most intelligent man in the world, Stephen Hawking has announced his support for the Labour Party”. The presenters then heard from correspondents around the UK.
City News, which runs UK 44 apologised for the “errors” in this case, which it said were not deliberate, adding
that it would ensure that its staff would learn from them. It said that its intention was “to cover voter turnout, when and where party leaders voted and…the demographics of candidates by gender or ethnic origin, including reference to candidates from Pakistan”.
The Licensee said that, in UK Election, its reporters “went further than they should” and mistakenly allowed the Conservative Party activist to influence the discussion, which “undermined the due impartiality required in election reporting”. It added, “Despite trying to go to a commercial break to break the Tory supporter’s flow, the mistake had been made”.
City News said that, in News from Westminster, the correspondents “strayed into making opinions on previous election performance, which went beyond the parameters on which they were briefed”.
The Licensee said that its reporters would complete training on election reporting before being permitted to report on elections in future.
Ofcom took into account the Licensee’s apology and the fact that its reporters would be required to complete training on election reporting before being permitted to report on elections in future. The channel was found in breach of Rule 6.4.