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Second party to complain to Ofcom over lack of Senedd election coverage

19 Apr 2021 4 minutes Read
Gwlad leader Gwyn Wigley Evans

A second party are saying they will complain to Ofcom about a lack of broadcast and online coverage in the run-up to the Senedd election.

Gwlad said that as the only centre-right Welsh nationalist party they should be provided with a platform, but with a little over two weeks of the campaign remaining had not been covered by the BBC.

Their complaint comes after Reform UK wrote to Ofcom after the BBC decided to exclude them from the main Welsh leader’s debate on 29 April.

Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code says that as well as “major parties” that “broadcasters must also consider giving appropriate coverage to other parties and independent candidates with significant views and perspectives”.

Gwlad said that this clause entitled them to a share of coverage.They are on the BBC’s list of regional candidates but have not been added to a list that compares the different parties by policies, even though other parties who have not won elections such as Propel and Abolish the Assembly have been included.

“Gwlad’s complaint to Ofcom will refer to their own guidelines for media election coverage based on Communications Act of 2003,” the party said.

“These say that coverage should be predicated on past electoral support, but that appropriate coverage to parties with significant views and perspectives should also be provided.

“Well, there’s hardly any more significant views at a Welsh election than a party with an officially approved designation as ‘The Welsh Independence Party’!”

‘Boost’

Gwlad’s policies include privatising the BBC, building a three-lane road from north to south and having three Welsh capital cities, one in the north, one in mid-Wales and one in the south.

Their candidate Rhydian Hughes said that his “good reception” in the constituency of Clwyd West over the weekend was proof that there was a demand for Gwlad’s message.

“People were telling me they are fed up of all the usual parties, and very keen to hear about our message,” said Rhydian Hughes.

“For example, there was a group of young lads in Mochdre yesterday supporting Welsh Independence and wanting more of our leaflets to share with their mates.

“The reception I’ve had so far as given me a big boost – you can really sense that change is in the air.”

‘Wrong’

Last week, Reform UK said that they had written to Ofcom after the BBC decided to exclude them from the main Welsh leader’s debate on 29 April.

Their complaint came after the BBC revealed that the debate would be split into two parts, with the main parties in the first hour-long part, and other lesser parties in a second half-hour segment.

In the first hour, the BBC will host leaders invited from the Labour, Conservative, Plaid Cymru, Liberal Democrats and Abolish the Assembly parties.

They will then host leaders invited from Reform, UKIP, and the Green Party for the second part of the programme.

Reform UK complained about being in the second debate, saying that they are standing a full roster of candidates at the Senedd election, unlike Abolish the Assembly who are only standing in 23 constituencies.

Reform UK also point to the fact that, as the Brexit Party, they won the 2019 EU election in Wales, with two of four MEPs elected on 32.46% of the vote.

They claim that the BBC is selectively focusing on recent polling that put Abolish the Assembly ahead of them on the regional list, and not on past electoral performance as OFCOM’s code suggests.

“The decision by the BBC to wilfully exclude Reform Wales from the Leaders debate on the 29th is obviously wrong,” leader Richard Tice said.

“Particularly given that Reform, as it was then, The Brexit Party, won a national election in Wales a mere two years ago.

“Not only that we are running a full slate of candidates in line with the other major parties for the Senedd. Not to include us in this debate is clearly biased, unfair and totally unacceptable.”

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