Page last updated at 11:15 GMT, Wednesday, 24 February 2010

UTV drops presenter Lynda Bryans over election period

Lynda Bryans - picture courtesy UTV press office
Lynda Bryans will not be presenting UTV Live until after the election

A Northern Ireland TV presenter has been dropped from the airwaves after her husband put himself forward as a candidate for the forthcoming election.

Lynda Bryans is a presenter on the station's flagship programme, UTV Live.

Her husband, Mike Nesbitt, has been picked as the UUP candidate for Strangford in the general election.

UTV managing director Michael Wilson said regulations on coverage of elections meant she could not present the programme until after the election.

"Lynda Bryans is a highly valued and respected member of the UTV Live team, however given the strict regulations regarding broadcast coverage of elections, UTV has advised Lynda that she cannot present UTV Live until after the election is over," he said.

"Lynda's professionalism and integrity has never been questioned by UTV and UTV has conveyed this to Lynda at all times during recent discussions."

UK communications regulator Ofcom has guidelines on how broadcasters cover elections to ensure impartiality.

As well as UTV, Ms Bryans has worked for the BBC as a news presenter and reporter for the Holiday programme and Animal Hospital.

On his website, Mr Nesbitt posted that it was an "awkward" situation, but that the station being concerned about perceptions of impartiality were "perfectly valid".

"But perceptions cut two ways and I hope UTV recognise Lynda Bryans as her own person, with her own mind, her own views, and with rights, just like all of us," he wrote.

"I would prefer if circumstances permit me to say no more on this subject until the election is over, for two reasons.

"One, I do not wish to be accused of using her upset at this knock-back to her career to further my own. Two, I do not wish to say anything that would endanger her next contract with UTV."

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