The British National Party will reportedly be given an interview slot on BBC Radio 4's long-running Today programme following the corporation's televised election debate.
BBC director general Mark Thompson is keen for the corporation to maintain a true sense of political balance during the forthcoming general election campaign. In-line with the agreed format with ITV and Sky, the BBC will run a 90-minute debate programme on April 29 featuring the three main prime ministerial candidates.
To negate any suggestions of bias, the BBC's chief political advisor Ric Bailey believes that the BNP should be permitted to appear on the Today programme after the debate is aired.
"I think there will probably be an interview with the BNP on the Today programme the following morning," he told The Independent.
The right-wing party is also expected to receive a 20-second segment on BBC One's Ten O'clock News for an immediate response to the leader's discussion, which is being held in the Midlands with contributions from Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg. However, Bailey said that the BNP would receive less airtime on the BBC than it did after winning seats at the European elections last year, which included a controversial appearance by party leader Nick Griffin on Question Time.
Griffin also appeared on the Today programme, which regularly attracts over six million listeners, after being elected to the European parliament.
"Question Time was being done in the context of the follow up to the European elections when the BNP had got 6% of the vote and for the first time had got representation at a national level," said Bailey. "If you look at the BNP in the context of a general election, the BNP got less than 1% of the vote at the 2005 election. If you can look at how much coverage different parties should get, clearly we don't ignore the European result but it was a different system, a different turnout, and it only gets so much weight."
However, Griffin's appearance on Question Time attracted major protests and it's likely that a further appearance on Radio 4 could prove likewise.
Bailey also pledged that the UK Independence Party (UKIP) will be given "meaty" coverage on the BBC ahead of the election due to its strong level of support.
"UKIP clearly is a party which got a lot of support in the European election, much more than the BNP. It's also clearly established itself as the fourth party in the general election last time, ahead of the Greens, and the Greens are ahead of the BNP," he said. "The BNP is quite a small party, so the level of coverage it will get in the context of the prime ministerial debate will be quite short. It will get some coverage but it won't be enormous. I would expect to see on the Ten O'clock News immediately following the debate you will see an interview with UKIP, they will get something quite meaty."