BBC sorry for mistake over nationalist voting rights

The BBC has apologised for a mistake made by a reporter while discussing an upcoming documentary about the civil rights movement.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell had written to the broadcaster on behalf of a constituent who had made a complaint regarding comments made by reporter Lynette Fay on the Good Morning Ulster Show in August.

The remarks related to a documentary she was presenting about the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march in Dungannon in August 1968, as part of BBC Radio Ulster’s Stories in Sound series.

Mr Campbell said: “During the interview, the reporter was asked about the impact of the march. She said it ‘provided a focus to provide better jobs, better housing and one man one vote – adding that these things didn’t exist back in 1968 for the nationalist community’.

“The constituent complained that Ms Fay as a BBC reporter had inferred that nationalists didn’t have a vote, which was totally incorrect.”

In correspondence to the East Londonderry MP, the BBC’s head of corporate and community affairs, Mark Adair said it regretted the “omission”, adding: “We accept that actual franchise arrangements were not as described and that it would have been helpful for these to have been explained in terms of the rate-based voting system that was in place in 1968 and its effect on people from different community backgrounds.

“We think that all of this was properly reflected within the documentary itself, but regret this omission and upset caused.”

Mr Adair said the team involved “work hard to avoid mistakes and are committed to learning from them”.

In response, Mr Campbell said: “The issue that arises from this admission is precisely that the BBC have NOT learnt from their numerous errors, misjudgments, bias and ‘mistakes’.

“It is important that listeners and viewers of BBC programmes make official complaints to the BBC no matter how numerous they may be.

“As a public organisation the BBC needs to be independent, transparent and accountable to its licence payers.”