Thursday 22 October 2009

Thompson: 'Not up to the BBC to ban BNP'

BBC director general Mark Thompson in the Guardian today says it is up to the Government not the BBC to outlaw the BNP.
Writing ahead of BNP leader Nick Griffin's appearance on Question Time tonight, Thompson says:"The case against inviting the BNP to appear on Question Time is a case for censorship … Democratic societies sometimes do decide that some parties and organisations are beyond the pale. As a result they proscribe them and/or ban them from the airwaves."
Referring to the ban on Sinn Féin in the 1980s, he says the BBC opposed the move by the Thatcher government, but abided by it. The corporation would similarly abide by a decision to proscribe the BNP.
"My point is simply that the drastic steps of proscription and censorship can only be taken by government and parliament … It is unreasonable and inconsistent to take the position that a party like the BNP is acceptable enough for the public to vote for, but not acceptable enough to appear on democratic platforms like Question Time. If there is a case for censorship, it should be debated and decided in parliament. Political censorship cannot be outsourced to the BBC or anyone else."
Thompson says the BNP will be challenged tenaciously on the programme.

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