It was labelled a “provocative partisan stunt” by the Tories.
The Conservative Party are threatening to review Channel 4’s broadcasting remit after the channel came up with a creative way to substitute Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a recent debate.
After Johnson refused to participate in a debate on the climate crisis with other party leaders, Channel 4 filled his place with an ice sculpture of the Earth, which proceeded to melt.
Nigel Farage, who also failed to attend the debate, had a similar ice sculpture stood in his place.
Following the stunt, the Tories said they would look at reviewing Channel 4’s public service broadcasting obligations.
These two ice sculptures – which represent the emergency on planet earth – will take the place of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage tonight after they declined our invitation to attend a party leaders’ #ClimateDebate
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) November 28, 2019
Under the proposal, first reported by BuzzFeed News, the party would “look at whether its remit should be better focused so it is serving the public in the best way possible”.
The Conservative Party sent a letter to Ofcom Election Committee chairman Tim Suter, saying it had offered Channel 4 the former environment secretary Michael Gove to be the party’s representative for the debate.
The letter said Channel 4 had breached broadcasting code with the “provocative partisan stunt”.
“Channel 4 News has refused to accept this representative, and stated that they intend to ’empty chair’ the Conservative Party if the Prime Minister does not attend,” the letter said.
“This effectively seeks to deprive the Conservative Party of any representation and attendance at the Channel 4 News debate.
“It has even been reported that Channel 4 has commissioned an ice sculpture of the Prime Minister to represent the Conservative Party.
“Were this the case, this would represent a significant breach of the Code through such a provocative partisan stunt, which would itself constitute making a political opinion in its own right.”
A Channel 4 spokesperson said ahead of the debate that Michael Gove “is not the party leader” when asked if he could replace Johnson.