Daily Express

Ofcom ruling against GB News ‘should terrify anyone who believes media’s role is to give a voice to the people’

- By Robert Kellaway

GB NEWS could be fined after one of its programmes featuring Rishi Sunak breached impartiali­ty rules.

Regulator Ofcom said that it was considerin­g a “statutory sanction” after finding the TV channel failed to produce a balanced show in line with the Broadcasti­ng Code.

The watchdog said it is “starting the process for considerat­ion of a statutory sanction” after analysis of the broadcast entitled People’s Forum: The Prime Minister.

Views

The hour-long show on February 12, saw members of the public put questions to the Prime Minister.

Ofcom ruled that the broadcast was fine in principle, but “due weight” should have been given to an “appropriat­ely wide range of significan­t views” other than the Conservati­ves’.

GB news reacted angrily, saying in a statement: “The upcoming General Election will be decided by the people of Britain, not journalist­s, not Ofcom regulators, but ordinary people.

“That is why GB News decided to host a People’s Forum with Rishi Sunak earlier this year, to allow citizens a chance to directly challenge and interrogat­e their Prime Minister.”

The channel’s bosses defended the show, saying that an “independen­tly selected group of undecided voters” questioned Mr Sunak “robustly, intelligen­tly and freely”.

They went on and described Ofcom’s ruling as 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”.

The broadcaste­r also accused Ofcom of trying to “silence” it by not allowing the “public to question politician­s directly”.

The statement went on: “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.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said yesterday that the Ofcom ruling was “one for GB News to respond to”.

The aide continued: “From the Prime Minister’s perspectiv­e he will regularly undertake interviews in a range of formats for a range of different outlets.

“He will continue to do so as it is clearly an important part of a free and democratic process that he and other Cabinet ministers and other politician­s are interviewe­d in a wide range of formats from a wide range of broadcaste­rs and media.”

Ofcom said that the episode received a total of 547 complaints.

The regulator added: “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.

Unconteste­d

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

Ofcom noted: “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.

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

The broadcasti­ng regulation­s make it clear that “due impartiali­ty must be preserved on matters of major political and industrial controvers­y”.

They also state there should be “an appropriat­ely wide range of significan­t views” included.

 ?? ?? On screen...Rishi Sunak on the GB News programme
On screen...Rishi Sunak on the GB News programme

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