Congestion charge film 'biased'

The broadcasting watchdog has ruled that a film about the proposed congestion charge in Greater Manchester breached advertising standards because it was not impartial.

The Department for Transport-funded advertisement was withdrawn by ITV after claims that it was biased towards a "yes" vote for the forthcoming referendum on the plans.

The film, which cost £230,000, was produced on behalf of Greater Manchester Passenger Executive. Ofcom ruled that the broadcast broke rules over the banning of advertisements directed towards a political end and the showing of partiality in matters of political controversy.

The item was shown in the Granada television region and attracted seven complaints, alleging that it was propaganda.

In its ruling, Ofcom said the time allocated in the film to the consequences of the "yes" and "no" vote in next month's poll was "weighted significantly towards the 'yes' result". It added that the presentation and tone of the consequences of the two outcomes was uneven.

If the proposals get the go-ahead, motorists would pay up to £5 a day on weekdays to drive in and out of Manchester city centre. In return, the region will receive £2.8 billion in Government funding for public transport improvements.

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