Page last updated at 11:09 GMT, Friday, 17 April 2009 12:09 UK

MEP accuses broadcasters of bias

Jim Allister
Jim Allister's party has been allocated one election broadcast

MEP Jim Allister has accused the BBC and Ulster Television of discrimination over their allocation of broadcasts ahead of June's European elections.

The broadcasters have given his Traditional Unionist Voice party one election broadcast during the campaign.

Northern Ireland's four main parties - the DUP, the UUP, Sinn Fein and the SDLP - will get three.

Mr Allister said the broadcasters were trying to gag him and added he would appeal the decision to the BBC Trust.

The broadcasts are separate from normal programme coverage and give parties free airtime to put forward their views.

A BBC spokeswoman said: "Party election broadcasts for elections in Northern Ireland are allocated on the basis of an eligibility criteria, which takes into account the electoral performance and proven support for political parties.

"Mr Allister's party election broadcast has been allocated, by the broadcasters in Northern Ireland, on the basis of the criteria."

UTV has told Mr Allister he can also take the issue up with Ofcom, the body which regulates the independent sector.

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