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Ofcom starting process for consideration of statutory sanction against GB News

20 May 2024 3 minute read
A sign at the offices of Ofcom (Office of Communications). Photo Yui Mok/PA Wire

Ofcom is “starting the process for consideration of a statutory sanction against GB News” following a programme featuring Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

The media watchdog ruled that the show, which saw Mr Sunak take questions from the audience during a live hour-long programme called People’s Forum: The Prime Minister, broke broadcasting due impartiality rules on Monday.

The body also said that the programme, which aired on February 12, did not have an “appropriately wide range of significant viewpoints” and compliance by GB News was “wholly insufficient”.

Ofcom said the episode received a total of 547 complaints and was “presented in the context of the forthcoming UK general election”.

It said there was “no issue with this programme’s editorial format in principle”.

Serious

Ofcom stated: “Given this represents a serious and repeated breach of these rules, we are now starting the process for consideration of a statutory sanction against GB News.”

The media watchdog also said: “We recognised that this programme would focus mainly on the Conservative Party’s policies and track record on a number of specific issues, meaning that Conservative viewpoints would be prevalent.

“We are clear that this, in and of itself, did not mean the programme could not comply with due impartiality rules under the code.

“It was incumbent on GB News, however, given the major matters under discussion, to ensure that an appropriately wide range of significant views was given due weight in the programme or in other clearly linked and timely programmes.”

Risks

Ofcom also said that GB News should have taken “additional steps to mitigate” risks because of the “very high compliance” needed.

“We consider that the Prime Minister had a mostly uncontested platform to promote the policies and performance of his Government in a period preceding a UK General Election,” the media watchdog said.

“We have therefore recorded a breach of rules 5.11 and 5.12 of the Broadcasting Code against GB News.”

The rules state that “due impartiality must be preserved on matters of major political and industrial controversy” and there should be “an appropriately wide range of significant views” included.

In a statement, GB News accused Ofcom of trying to “silence” the channel by not allowing the “public to question politicians directly”.

“The regulator’s threat to punish a news organisation with sanctions for enabling people to challenge their own prime minister strikes at the heart of democracy at a time when it could not be more vital,” it also said.

GB News also called itself the “people’s channel” and said the “independently selected group of undecided voters” questioned Mr Sunak “robustly, intelligently, and freely”.

The channel also said that the Ofcom ruling was a “watershed moment that should terrify anyone who believes, as we do, that the media’s role is to give a voice to the people of the United Kingdom”.


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Jeff
Jeff
29 days ago

ARTD fav comedy channel.

Well I never.

Hey OFCOM, put them in the same bin as RT and Press TV where they belong.

A.Redman
A.Redman
29 days ago

Wot,no bias on BBC Question Time?As with so many cases ,there is a distinct lack of consistency in investigations by Ofgem and other bodies whose remit is impartial investigation,NOTto bow to the wishes of the easily offended ,invariably on the political “Left”!!!

SImon
SImon
29 days ago
Reply to  A.Redman

The rather obvious difference from Question Time is that this GB News programme only had one politician, a conservative, on the panel – and no plans to mount similar balancing events with other parties

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
29 days ago

GB news is far worse than RT and that was banned by the government… Ah I see where RT went wrong, they weren’t tory bootlickers!

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
29 days ago

GBeebies can squeal all they like. What Ofcom have in front of them is a thing called ‘The Law’ and they have to work to that. GBeebies just want to drive their coach and horses through it so why don’t they lobby and bribe their Tory masters to change it so that what they do is deemed to be officially fair and balanced? After all, they passed a law to say that an unsafe country is safe.

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