George Galloway TV show rapped for bias

A phone-in TV programme presented by former MP George Galloway has been criticised by the broadcasting watchdog for breaching impartiality rules.

Ofcom investigated after Mr Galloway's weekly, one-hour English-language programme, Comment, broadcast on the Iranian international news network Press TV, sparked complaints that it was biased against Israel.

The regulator concluded that "due impartiality" had not been maintained in individual programmes or across the series.

It said: "The broadcaster failed to engage or debate with any point of view that was contrary to the view presented by George Galloway.

"Rather, Ofcom is of the view that George Galloway, in particular, used the alternative opinions made by the viewers, which were contrary to his own, only as vehicles to punctuate what could be classed as a form of ongoing political polemic, delivered by the presenter directly to camera and unchallenged."

It added: "Alternative viewpoints were not adequately represented in the individual programmes or across the series as a whole."

Press TV, which is funded by the Iranian government, pointed to six examples from four separate programmes in which alternative viewpoints were presented but Ofcom said the views were "dismissed" by Mr Galloway.

This is not the first time the programme has been criticised by Ofcom.

In June last year, the watchdog ruled that Mr Galloway breached rules on impartiality after he accused the Israeli government of using "a Nazi tactic", conducting a "brutal apartheid-style occupation" and committing "war crimes" in various editions of his discussion programmes.

Mr Galloway, a founder member of the anti-war Respect party, was a Labour MP until he was expelled in 2003 over his opposition to the party's actions on Iraq.

He lost his battle to remain an MP when he failed to win the seat he contested under the Respect Unity Coalition in May.