TV station censure over Livingstone

August 25, 2011

A popular British Bangladeshi TV channel has been censured by Ofcom for bias over its coverage of a speech by former London mayor Ken Livingstone. Channel S, "the voice of British Bangladeshis across the world", reported on a controversial speech by Mr Livingstone to the Baishaki Mela festival in May, which marks the Bengali New Year.

The Livingstone speech, compared by one complainant to an election rally, attacked the record of Conservative Mayor Boris Johnson, but Channel S did not provide any alternative views, which Ofcom considers necessary in the interests of balance. Mr Livingstone appeared at the festival with Lutfur Rahman, the Independent mayor of Tower Hamlets, whom he had backed in elections last year to the dismay of many in the Labour Party.

Last week Mr Livingstone gave an interview to Total Politics magazine in which he said: "It's a simple choice between good and evil - I don't think it's been so clear since the great struggle between Churchill and Hitler… The people that don't vote for me will be weighed in the balance, come Judgment Day. The Archangel Gabriel will say, ' You didn't vote for Ken Livingstone in 2012. Oh dear, burn forever. Your skin flayed for all eternity.'..."

A Labour Party spokesman said: "Anyone reading the full quote will see Ken's comments were clearly made in a spirit of humour during a light-hearted interview.

"Tories may want to try to turn this into the central issue in the mayoral election to divert from the big issues, from rising unemployment to high fares and riots, but they are unlikely to succeed given the challenges facing London at present."

Last updated: 12:13pm, August 25 2011