Page last updated at 14:28 GMT, Tuesday, 27 October 2009

BBC 'biased towards republicans'

DUP MP David Simpson
DUP MP David Simpson said some unionists perceived BBC bias

Some unionists perceive BBC Northern Ireland as having a republican bias, a DUP MP has claimed.

David Simpson was addressing a Northern Ireland Affairs Committee meeting at Stormont on the role of public service broadcasting in a devolved nation.

"There is a perception that the BBC in some ways is very biased when it comes to the nationalist or republican side of broadcasting," he said.

BBC NI controller Peter Johnston said audience research did not support this.

Mr Simpson said "rightly or wrongly", there was a perception among unionists about BBC bias.

"A journalist from the unionist community recently spoke to me and described the BBC in Belfast as the coldest media house for a unionist journalist that they had ever walked into - an experience more chilling than a greeting at a Sinn Fein press conference," he said.


Mr Johnston said he could not comment on the experience of one individual.

"I have heard that perception portrayed by politicians primarily and some associated interest groups," he said.

"We have done over many years huge amounts of audience research, and that is not what people believe in general.

"A core purpose of ours is impartiality and I have never seen any audience research evidence that this perception is shared more widely."

The committee has been hearing a series of discussions about the role of public service broadcasting, digital switchover, the role of local news, current affairs and other programming, and the place of broadcasting in a devolved nation of the UK.

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