Ofcom rejects Conservative Party climate debate complaint

The party reacted angrily after the Prime Minister was replaced by an ice sculpture following his refusal to take part

Conservative party represented by an ice sculpture at Channel 4 election debate

Ofcom has rejected a complaint by the Conservative Party relating to Channel 4’s climate debate, after the Prime Minister was replaced by an ice sculpture following his refusal to take part.

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The judgement from the broadcasting watchdog made it clear that they believed the channel had taken appropriate steps when it came to ensuring balance during the debate.

The Conservatives had reacted angrily to Channel 4’s refusal to let Michael Gove take Boris Johnson’s place in the debate, which was intended for party leaders only, making the highly unusual step of saying they would review its broadcasting license in the event of election victory.

The party even went so far as to accuse the channel of “conspiring with Jeremy Corbyn” despite Channel 4 repeatedly stating that the invitation to Johnson still stood.

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But Ofcom has now judged the coverage to have been fair and impartial, and has claimed that the issue does not warrant further investigation.

The statement from the watchdog stated: “Broadcasters have editorial freedom in determining the format of any election debate.

“Depending on the circumstances, they may choose to proceed without having agreed the participation of a particular political party or politician, providing they take steps to ensure the programme complies with our due impartiality and elections rules.

“In this case, the Election Committee concluded that, across the one-hour debate and a subsequent news programme, Channel 4’s use of editorial techniques ensured that the Conservative’s viewpoint on climate and environmental issues was adequately reflected and given due weight.

“The Committee also took into account that the globe ice sculpture was not a representation of the Prime Minister personally, and little editorial focus was given to it, either visually or in references made by the presenter or debate participants.

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“The Committee therefore considered that this programme, including the use of the ice sculpture, did not raise issues warranting further investigation under our due impartiality and elections rules.”