Ofcom investigates GB News programmes over due impartiality rules

The UK media watchdog has launched four investigations.

Ellie Iorizzo
Monday 07 August 2023 12:19 BST
The UK media watchdog said it is looking at three programmes (Yui Mok/PA)
The UK media watchdog said it is looking at three programmes (Yui Mok/PA)

Ofcom has launched four further investigations into GB News’s compliance with due impartiality rules.

The UK media watchdog said it is looking at three programmes, including an episode of Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg’s show State Of The Nation, in relation to its rule that politicians must not act as newsreaders, interviewers or reporters “unless exceptionally it is editorially justified”.

On June 13, Sir Jacob’s show covered a stabbing incident in Nottingham which is being investigated, while Ofcom is also probing the Friday morning show from Esther McVey and Philip Davies, Conservative MPs for Tatton and Shipley respectively, on May 12 which included a discussion about a teenager who was being sentenced for terrorism offences.

Saturday Morning With Esther And Philip which aired on May 13 this year is also being examined, following an interview with Howard Cox, the Reform UK party’s candidate for the London mayoral election, who was speaking live from an anti-ultra low emission zone demonstration.

It is also assessing the programme’s compliance with the broadcasting rule which requires that “news, in whatever form, must be presented with due impartiality”.

Ofcom said it is also investigating an episode of Laurence Fox on June 16, which was guest-presented by Martin Daubney and featured an interview with Richard Tice, the leader of Reform UK.

It included a discussion about immigration and asylum policy, particularly in relation to the issue of small boats crossing the English Channel.

This episode is being probed in relation to the broadcasting rule which requires that due impartiality “is preserved on matters of major political or industrial controversy or those relating to current public policy and that an appropriately wide range of significant views are included and given due weight”, the media watchdog said.

The investigations come months after Adam Baxter, director of broadcasting standards at Ofcom, said that the watchdog will be looking at GB News to see if the broadcaster is “behaving itself” following the channel breaching its broadcasting code with Covid claims for the second time.

In July, Ofcom launched a new broadcast standards investigation into an episode of Sir Jacob’s State Of The Nation show which addressed a court case involving Donald Trump, after it received 40 complaints objecting to the MP for North East Somerset acting as a newsreader.

Similarly in the same month, the media watchdog launched an investigation into GB News over a campaign which calls on the Government to introduce laws to “protect the status of cash”, which under its rules excludes broadcasters from expressing views on “political and industrial controversy or current public policy”.

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