I accept an objective criteria of electoral mandates. After all, the failure to receive X number of votes means losing your deposit.
However, the BBC *guidelines* are too literal and constraining. Surely, if a candidate has received the formal endorsements of elected representatives, then this should be worthy of consideration. This would obviously assist independent candidates, like John Gilliland, who has received the endorsement of 7 MLAs. But this would also have bearing for coalitions, e.g. future UUUCs.
I am surprised that commercially-driven UTV apes the conservative game of BBC NI here.
As for the television media’s role in contributing to sectarianism, I’m on board with bobby and Society Made Me Do It. Although the media itself accepts that it isn’t ever truly neutral, it is supposed to be objective. However, by complacently presenting us a staple diet of Super-Prod vs Super-Taig dialogue–which itself doesn’t challenge the political debate in Northern Ireland–the media has inherently just become another sectarian part of the sectarian society we live in.
For a more academic analysis of the role of the NI media, I would recommend a paper written by Robin Wilson, Media and Interstate Conflict in Northern Ireland.
One of the paper’s conclusion is that by “assuring impartiality between unionist and nationalist legends will … preserve their reactionary influence”.