CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

'BROADCASTING BALANCE'

The Times – 10 October 1988

The central point of Woodrow Wyatt's article (October 4) is simply not addressed in Lord Thomson's reply (October 7) on behalf of the Independent Broadcasting Authority: namely that, since Sir Hugh Greene's bias loophole allowing unfair programmes to be "balanced over a series" was instituted, unchallenged research has shown only about half the audience of one programme in a given series to view the next.

Even if a partial and one-sided programme were balanced the following week with an equally partial programme slanted in the opposite direction (as recently occurred – by chance – on different channels' coverage of the 1938 Munich Agreement), that does not give the viewer "due impartiality" as required by the Act. It gives him two biased programmes airing one-sided views which are unable directly to confront each other. It also gives him slanted editorialising, instead of objective presentation and the opportunity to make up his own mind on contentious issues.

Only apologists for the present system maintain that there is any danger that "out would have to go all programmes in which only one politician appeared" – or one party conference, for that matter. Due impartiality can easily be maintained by professional interviewers and commentators raising the points which the interviewees' adversaries would have put, had they been present in person.

Dr JULIAN LEWIS
Consultant
The Media Monitoring Unit
London W11