13 November 2003 Edition
Maskey welcomes BBC rethink
South Belfast Sinn Féin Assembly candidate Alex Maskey has welcomed the decision of the BBC to modify its position relating to election coverage in the light of a Sinn Féin court challenge on Wednesday 5 November.
The party took the corporation to Belfast's High Court over its decision to exclude Sinn Féin from its entitlement of election coverage.
Maskey told the court in an affidavit he had complained that the party was not included in the BBC's Newsline programme's election round up on Tuesday 4 November.
The BBC claimed that interviews carried out with Martin McGuinness after he appeared at the Saville Tribunal in Derry constituted election coverage for the party. The court heard that the BBC guidelines ruled that non election stories about candidates had to be considered in granting equal and fair air time to the main political parties in the run up to the elections
On Wednesday, Judge Kerr adjourned the case until Thursday, urging the BBC to reflect maturely upon its position. The BBC returned to the court on Thursday and agreed to modify its position regarding election coverage.
Commenting on the outcome, Maskey said it was clear that the guidelines the BBC were using discriminated against the republican electorate.
"We welcome the decision of the BBC to modify its position relating to election coverage in the light of the Sinn Féin court challenge," he said. "However, we will continue to monitor election coverage closely during the campaign and we will not hesitate to challenge overt discrimination again."