Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson attends a rally event in Colchester, Britain December 2, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/Pool
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s communications watchdog has rejected a complaint by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party over a broadcaster’s decision to represent him with a block of melting ice in a prime-time election debate on the environment.
Last month, Channel 4, a commercially funded public-service broadcaster invited leaders of all Britain’s main political parties to take part in the debate before Dec. 12’s election, but Johnson declined to attend.
The Conservatives offered former environment minister Michael Gove as a substitute but Channel 4 said the debate was only intended for party leaders and that the other political parties would not agree to change the terms.
British television broadcasters are required to be politically impartial, and face extra balance requirements during election periods.
The Ofcom broadcast regulator rejected a complaint by the Conservatives that Channel 4’s actions amounted to denying the party representation.
“Channel 4’s use of editorial techniques ensured that the Conservative viewpoint on climate and environmental issues was adequately reflected and given due weight,” Ofcom said in a statement on Tuesday.
“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.”
Reporting by William James; editing by Stephen Addison