A MEDIA expert has said they “welcome” Question Time’s decision to fill Thursday night’s show with undecided voters – but that there is still a long way to go to improve “transparency”.

We previously told how the political debate show, which is being broadcast from Oxford on Thursday, will feature an audience full of “undecided voters” for the first time.

In the past, Question Time has said its audiences have been chosen to reflect the politics of the area in which it is being filmed.

Reacting to the news of the change, Dr Russell Jackson, a senior lecturer in communication at Sheffield Hallam University, told The National there were questions around who exactly constitutes "undecided voters".

“I broadly welcome this presumably one-off experimental shift in audience selection for tonight’s episode of one of the BBC’s flagship political shows,” he said.

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“The lack of transparency around audience selection remains concerning, with no publicly available information about precisely who makes this crucial decision or what background checks are made to ensure claims made in the application to be an audience member are accurate or honest.”

Jackson continued: “There remains ambiguity around the idea that tonight’s episode will be filled with undecided voters.

“Of course, there is a significant difference between voters who may be undecided between, say, the Conservatives and Reform, and voters undecided between the SNP and the Green Party.

“Being open and transparent about this would help improve trust in Question Time and the BBC more generally.”

Jackson previously penned a letter to the BBC questioning how the audience was chosen and has in the past made calls for the broadcaster to be more “open and transparent” about its flagship debate show.

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However, he said that while the latest update was a step in the right direction, he feels improvement is still needed.

According to the BBC’s website, for regular shows, Question Time “selects local audiences which reflect a broad range of political views”.

“People apply to be in the audience for Question Time via the website and by phone and producers get in touch to ask questions on their previous voting record and future voting intentions, whether they have party political membership and also how they voted in the EU referendum,” it says.

The National:

“This is to ensure a range of views are represented in the audience. Occasionally, if production staff feel any group or view is under-represented in the applications, they will promote the programme through relevant local media channels to encourage people to apply.”

It adds that the audience “broadly reflects the electoral map of the nation in which we are broadcasting”.

Issues with transparency on the programme have been well documented in the past.

For example, last June a question was asked by a man who was later revealed via social media to have previously stood for Ukip in a by-election.

Likewise, Angus Robertson faced criticism on the SNP’s record from a man he pointed out was a “Tory activist” during a show in June 2022.

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Jackson isn’t the only media expert to criticise Question Time, as we previously told how Professor Phil Burton-Cartledge – who has analysed more than three decades of the programme – also raised questions.

Specifically, he said the show “re-enforces the Westminster-centrism of British politics”.

“Despite the fact Question Time travels around the UK, it doesn’t really reflect the local character of what is going on there [the place it is being filmed] at all.”

A spokesperson from the BBC told The National the changes would be explained in tonight's show.