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Eurosceptic MPs call for broadcast news ‘impartiality adjudicator’ ahead of EU referendum

By William Turvill

Eurosceptic MPs want to see an "impartiality adjudicator" appointed to monitor broadcasters in the run-up to the referendum on Britain leaving the European Union. (Picture: Reuters)

According to The Daily Telegraph, the watchdog would police output during the referendum period and provide rulings on alleged impartiality within 24 hours.

The newspaper reported that an amendment to the European Union Referendum Bill was tabled by a group of MPs including Sir William Cash (Conservative), Peter Bone (Conservative), Kate Hoey (Labour) and Kelvin Hopkins (Labour).

Cash told the Telegraph: "It is clear that there are reservations in the way that the Government is trying to condition the advantages for the 'yes' vote.

“The amendments deal with purdah and the question of the manner in which the Government is trying to achieve the timing, and the BBC.

“The broadcasting impartiality clause would need to be in place during the referendum itself and provide independent adjudication and correct any justified complaint within one day."

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On Tuesday, Cash, Hoey and Hopkins all raised concerns about the BBC’s reporting on the European Union.

Hoey noted that parts of the BBC receive grant funding from the EU. She also said: “I want to say one other thing: can we please distinguish – the BBC and the media have to distinguish – between people who say they are anti-EU and being anti-Europe?

"The two things are completely different. It is so annoying to hear supposedly educated journalists, who are supposed experts on this issue, talking all the time about Europe and saying, ‘So, you’re anti-Europe?’

"No, I am not anti-Europe. I am anti the unelected, absolute dictatorship that we have from the European Union. That is not being anti-Europe, and we have to distinguish between the two. That is important.”

Hopkins said to Cash during the debate: “It is very important for there to be a balance of voices, representing both sides, in the broadcasting media in particular.

“Does he agree that for too long the BBC has tended to see the issue of the European Union as purely a Conservative party matter, although people on the left as well as the right take sceptical views?”

Cash, who is chair of the European Scrutiny Committee, responded: “I entirely agree. The European Scrutiny Committee was unanimous in its report, which was severely critical of the BBC’s failure to be sufficiently impartial in relation to European matters.”

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