On Monday 7 March 2005, Minotaur Media Tracking began a fifteen-week investigation into the BBC’s coverage of European Union news and current affairs. Minotaur sought to establish whether EU-related stories were given adequate consideration by the corporation’s flagship news and current affairs programmes, and whether the BBC’s charter requirements of broad impartiality and fairness were met. The fifteen-week monitoring period included four significant events:
UK General Election (May 5)
French Referendum on the Constitution (May 29)
Dutch Referendum on the Constitution (June 1)
EU Heads of government summit in Brussels (June 16/17)
BBC Radio 4’s Today programme was monitored for the whole fifteen weeks. On the formal announcement of the general election (April 5), monitoring was extended to include three additional programmes: Radio 4’s PM, the BBC1 10 O’Clock News, and BBC2’s Newsnight. These additional programmes were monitored until the Dutch referendum on June 1 – an interval of eight weeks and two days. The following analysis will first consider each programme in turn, and then assess their coverage of the major EU events which occurred during the survey period. The final part of the analysis will provide overall totals for the entire survey.