AN academic analysis of guests chosen by the BBC to appear on Question Time has exposed the broadcaster as disproportionately platforming people from right-wing media outlets.

Researchers at Cardiff University analysed every episode of the programme between September 2014 and July 2023 in order to see whether the broadcaster was appropriately balancing political viewpoints.

They analysed a total of 352 programmes with 1734 guest slots, which were filled by 661 different people.

However, while they found that the BBC had “broadly balanced” appearances from representatives of the UK’s main political parties, when it came to members of the media a right-wing bias became evident.

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In an article for The Conservation, Matt Walsh, head of the School of Journalism, Media and Culture at Cardiff University, wrote: “Removing politicians from the list of most frequent guests shows that several high-frequency panellists are being used, most of whom come from the political right.

“The regularly featured journalists are typically opinion columnists who contribute to right-wing press outlets such as the Mail or the Telegraph, or who make appearances on right-leaning broadcasters like GB News and TalkTV.”

Indeed, the five most regular non-political guests have all written for The Spectator: Isabel Oakeshott, Julia Hartley-Brewer, Kate Andrews, Tim Stanley and Camilla Tominey.

Yet there is no such similar frequency of guests from left-wing media.

The right-wing journalist Isabel Oakeshott was invited on more than double the amount of times that the most frequently appearing left-wing journalistThe right-wing journalist Isabel Oakeshott was invited on more than double the amount of times than the most frequently appearing left-wing journalist

While Oakeshott appeared 13 times across the period studied, the most frequent guest from a left-wing publication – Ash Sarkar from Novara Media – appeared just six times.

Walsh added that the BBC’s overreliance on guests from right-wing media suggests a failure to achieve balance.

“The tendency to overuse panellists who write or broadcast for right-wing media outlets suggests an emphasis on heat over light,” he wrote.

“Question Time has long been accused of bias towards both the left and right – usually a good indication of balance.

“But the overuse of right-wing guests, as identified in our analysis, supports some of these claims of a lack of impartiality. The regular appearances of panellists such as Isabel Oakeshott and Julia Hartley-Brewer – the two most frequent non-politician guests in our analysis – raise questions about how producers choose guests.”

It comes after Question Time host Fiona Bruce faced criticism for repeatedly interrupting Deputy First Minister Kate Forbes during last week’s episode of the programme in Edinburgh.