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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 March, 2005, 10:41 GMT
Budget anger as Howard cut short
Michael Howard
More than 30 people complained Mr Howard's speech was cut short

More than 30 people called or e-mailed to complain that Michael Howard's response to the Budget was cut short.

The Budget 2005 programme on BBC Two showed about 10 minutes of the Tory leader's speech before returning to the studio - Mr Howard actually spoke for more than 15 minutes.

One viewer called the coverage "disgraceful", adding: "I was shocked by the fact that Michael Howard's speech was cut short, and throughout the speech that the news ticker showed the details of the budget."

And Roger Shaw said: "Why did not BBC Two or News 24 cover the replies to the budget by the opposition and the Lib Dems when Sky News did? Is this yet again BBC bias? Or is it to keep your reporters in pay?"

Continued coverage

In response, the BBC said: "We broadcast around 10 minutes of Michael Howard's speech live before returning to reactions from the studio.

"This has been the format of BBC Two's coverage for a number of years and certainly during the term of the Conservative government we did not cover all of the Opposition's reply.

"However, BBC Parliament did provide full coverage of Mr Howard's response, which David Dimbleby did make viewers aware of on a number of occasions.

"The reason for having a studio discussion and analysis of the Budget is that this allows us to discuss the main issues of the Budget from different perspectives in greater depth and to examine how the government's spending plans will affect a variety of people of different marital status and economic background.

"The programme also included contributions from a broad range of business guests, students, pensioners and entrepreneurs at an outside broadcast from the West Midlands to ensure a range of views on the Budget were represented.

"The BBC will continue to provide reaction to the chancellor's statement from the opposition parties over the next few days across our television and radio programmes."

Paul Clabburn, Editor of Interactive Television and Broadband News, added: "The BBC also carried extensive highlights of Mr Howard's response on its news multiscreen - available via the red button to digital TV viewers - while the whole speech remains available on demand to users of the news website.

"It can be found by putting the words 'Howard' and 'Budget' into the Search box."


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