Volume of referendum questions from PM listeners 'highlights reporting concerns'

Broadcaster Eddie Mair has said the volume of EU referendum-related queries his news programme has received has raised questions about the way the campaigns are being reported.

Eddie invited listeners of PM, his BBC Radio 4 news show, to email in questions and said they have been bombarded with messages.

He said in the Radio Times: "The campaigns seem to have been running forever, and there's now just a week to go. So why are PM listeners still writing to us in droves asking questions that don't appear to get answered by the campaigns?"

PM devoted a few minutes each night to listeners' EU-related questions, with assistant political editor Norman Smith and Europe correspondent Chris Morris on hand to answer.

Eddie said: "We get a lot of emails at PM. Usually if we talk about something on air our inbox pings delightfully for a few minutes, and then quietens down.

"On this topic, however, the emails have never stopped arriving. Day and night they come. Over the weekend, unprompted, earnest enquiries arrive from real people who want real answers to their real questions.

Eddie Mair at an awards show
Eddie Mair (Ian West/PA)

"We had so many unanswered questions after the original week-long run ended, we brought Norman and Chris back for a second week. And then a third. Then a fourth...".

The broadcaster, 50, said the questions are often about issues not being discussed by the campaigns.

Topics raised include whether any countries or trading blocs have publicly stated they are in favour of Britain leaving the EU and that they have specific plans to increase their trade with Britain if it did, whether we need new car number plates without the EU flag and will leaving mean more delays on parcels being sent from abroad.

He continued: "They're good questions, right? And we're happy to do our bit trying to answer them: it's part of our public service role, I suppose.

"But if voters need to turn to us to answer such basic interesting questions, aren't there more searching questions to be asked of all of us in the media about our reporting - and of the campaigns themselves?"

This week's Radio Times is on sale on Tuesday June 7.

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