04/04/2014 Newswatch


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Now, Newswatch. Did the BBC's screening of the debate on the EU do


a favour to UKIP? Welcome to Newswatch. Coming up...


Wednesday's EU debate, we look at the dilemma for the BBC over how


much air time to give to it. Is this Nick Robinson's new interviewing


technique, questioning politicians when they are busy talking to


someone else which are marked Mr Farrow, are you still arguing that


President Assad did not use chemical weapons? And we look back at when


the BBC cheered as up with a cheerful hoax about spaghetti


growing on trees. The build`up seemed to promise the latest in a


series of heavyweight confrontations. But did Wednesday


night causing big fight live up to the billing? Seconds out for round


two of the bout between the man who says he is leading a people's army,


and the man who says he is exposing a dangerous fallacy. Last week, they


sized each other up. Tonight it is the career political class and their


friends in big his nose, they want us to keep the status quo. If it


sounds too good to be true, it probably is. But was this debate the


BBC should have been screening? Some people thought not...


Others felt that coverage of the debate exposed or did something to


redress what they see as the BBC's pro`EU bias.


Well, the BBC's chief political adviser joins me in the studio now.


Nigel Farage has his supporters as well as his detractors, but why


screen a debate about this topic, which no voter is going to have a


say on, for the time being? It is clearly one of the big political


issues of our time, Britain's relationship with the European issue


union `` the European Union. We get criticism from both sides, that we


do not do enough on Europe. I think this was a really good opportunity


to hear from someone who is very much in favour of the European


Union, up against somebody who is very much against it, to hear some


of those arguments, ahead of a time when this will become a really big


issue, in two or three years' time. But there are lots of big issues


that we could have a debate on, but this particular issue plays into the


hands of UKIP, many people would say. Well, it was Nick Clegg who


threw down the gauntlet and offered to have a debate. I think he felt


that he wanted to put that side of the argument. Nigel Farage of course


has also been prominent in the last year or two. It is quite right that


these two quite prominent politicians should have an


opportunity on the BBC to talk about this important issue. We will talk


about how we define prominent ` UKIP have no MPs, the Green Party have


one, but they do not seem to be getting invited to debate issues.


There is a question about how much the BBC has helped build up the


profile of UKIP over the past year? We give coverage to political


parties according to the level of electoral support they have had in


the past. It is true that UKIP do not have any MPs, they did not get


any in the 2010 election, but since then, it is undeniable that they


have made a big impact in electorally. They did extremely well


in the local elections last year. Their ratings in the opinion polls


have been extremely strong over the past couple of years. Mostly higher


than the Lib Dems. So the fact that UKIP is making an impact with real


voters means the BBC has to reflect that and reflect those views. There


is a question about what happens next, because now that he has


debated with Nick Clegg, surely Nigel Farage will expect to be part


of any general election leadership debate next year. Would he be? We


looked at each election. At the moment we are looking towards the


European elections next month. In that context, UKIP have done


extremely well over the years, they came second last time, some people


even think they might the general election is still more than a year


away. At an appropriate time, we will look at it. Is there definitely


going to be a leadership debate before the general election next


year? It is not set yet. We would like to do one. We thought they were


incredibly successful last time, particularly engaging younger


voters. We and the other broadcasters would like to do one


again this time, but it is still more than a year away, so it is not


certain. I am just looking at the number of MEPs, nearly half have


quit, resigned, been expelled or changed party, from UKIP? It is


true, but people voted for them at the last election, and one thing


about giving a party like that more coverage is that we ask them more


difficult questions. It means that the BBC, as part of its job, has to


hold them to account. That is what we are doing when we do this kind of


coverage. Debates is just one part of it. We will be doing lots of


other coverage about Europe. Thank you.


You have been sending us comments relating to that debate, and you


were doing so before it kicked off. Nick Robinson was live for the news


at six outside New Broadcasting House in London following earlier


comments from Nigel Farage about the use of chemical weapons in Syria.


And who should be behind him? Nigel Farage is answering questions about


those comments. Because the UN did not take a decision about who used


chemical weapons in Syria, but they did conclude that the weapons were


used. Are you still arguing that President Assad did not use chemical


weapons in Syria? Some viewers were unimpressed by that...


Another topic caught your eye last weekend, coverage of the first


same`sex marriage is, which took place in England and Wales following


a new law coming into effect. Was it a major cultural shift or a small,


incremental change, following the introduction of civil partnerships


in 2005 and now some people felt BBC News gave the event too much


attention. If same`sex marriage is a divisive


issue, so, too, is climate change. This week the BBC was criticised for


its reporting on that subject by a Parliamentary committee. MPs said


some editors were poor at determining the level of expertise


amongst the public, and sometimes pitted lobbyists against top


scientists, as if their views had equal weight. The BBC responded that


it did not believe in erasing wider viewpoints.


Finally, the date on Tuesday prompted Colin Paterson to look back


at one of broadcasting's most famous tricks on the audience. On the 1st


of April 1957, in between Hancox half`hour and some heavyweight


boxing, panorama featured one of the most famous April Fools of all time.


Spaghetti cultivation in Switzerland is not carried out on anything like


the tremendous scale of the Italian industry. That was the voice of


Richard and bubbly. `` Richard Dimbleby.


Others were on the lookout for similar trickery this year. One


viewer thought she had found a candidate on the BBC News website.


No, that story actually is true, along with all the other unlikely


sounding reports you heard or read on the BBC on Tuesday. The BBC did


however relay some stories from the papers.


If in our naivete we missed any BBC April Fools this week, do let us


know. We want you to share all of your opinions on BBC current affairs


by contacting us... Thanks for all your comments about


BBC News. These join us again next week. Goodbye.


You will need to factor in the possibility of rain at least into


your plans for the


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