Monday, February 25, 2013

Channel Four News - My Complaint

Dear Sir/Ma'am. I wish to make a complaint about Channel 4 News.

On Thursday 21 February, Channel 4 News ran a special report into alleged sexual harassment by Lord Rennard of the Liberal Democrats. I have no issue with the report itself and agree it is a newsworthy item which should be reported. My complaint is regarding the timing of the piece.

Channel 4 News are presumably aware that (i) there is a parliamentary by-election to be held at Eastleigh on Thursday 28 February, (ii) that polls indicate a close fight between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservative party, and (iii) political commentators agree on the importance of this by-election with likely consequences for either or both of the coalition parties, or even the government. It has been called the most significant by-election in 50 years.

Despite this, Channel 4 News decide to run this report at the time of maximum effect – exactly one week before polling – so that it can snowball and disable the Liberal Democrats in the lead up to polling day. One week earlier or one week later would have been different. But now, three days before the vote, the Liberal Democrats campaign in Eastleigh has been run off the tracks and Channel 4 News are the toast of every Conservative party gathering.

Surely this possibility had occurred to someone in the Channel 4 newsroom – or did they genuinely not know about Eastleigh?

The impression given is that Channel 4 News are deliberately seeking to influence the result of the Eastleigh by-election, and that the victims of the alleged abuse are being used for party political and election purposes. Such conduct is against all codes of professional ethics for televised media and removes any pretence of political impartiality by Channel 4 News.

Channel 4 News have built an enviable reputation for the quality of its news reports, so it is a shame that it should blatantly use a legitimate story in this way.

I would welcome your comments.