The BBC’s news output has the lowest-ranked impartiality score of any British broadcaster, according to a survey of viewers. The corporation has fallen below Channel 5 for the first time.
Ofcom asked audiences for each of the main channels whether they believed that the news programmes they watched were free of bias.
The BBC scored just 58 per cent. Sky News was the highest-rated with 69 per cent, followed by Channel 4 (66 per cent), ITV (63 per cent) and Channel 5 (61 per cent).
It is the first time in the annual survey that the BBC has fallen behind all the other broadcasters. Channel 5 has now overtaken the corporation as perceptions of its impartiality improve.
Ofcom said: “We learned that people’s views of the impartiality of BBC news are shaped by a range of factors, only some of which relate directly to its news and current affairs content.
“Some told us that their views were influenced by the BBC brand, its funding mechanism and its portrayal across wider media.
“Once again our research shows that audiences rate impartiality as the lowest-scoring aspect of the BBC’s delivery of this purpose.
“There is a risk that future relationships between the BBC and its audiences could be jeopardised if audience concerns around impartiality continue to grow.”
Ofcom said it would monitor the progress made by the corporation over the next 12 months after Tim Davie, the director-general, said he planned to put impartiality at the heart of the BBC’s output.
It also welcomed Mr Davie’s new rules warning presenters that they must not express political views on Twitter. Ofcom said: “Although the use of social media by BBC journalists and presenters is not within our remit, we consider that this is a useful step and is likely to help improve perceptions of impartiality.”