Advanced Television

Ofcom: 4 new GB News impartiality probes

August 7, 2023

By Colin Mann

UK broadcast regulator Ofcom has opened four further investigations into GB News’s compliance with its due impartiality rules.

The first investigation concerns an episode of Friday Morning with Esther and Phil, which aired on May 12th. During the programme, there was discussion about a range of issues including relating to a teenager who was being sentenced for terrorism offences.

Specifically, Ofcom’s investigation will determine whether the programme broke Rule 5.3 of the Broadcasting Code. This prevents politicians from acting as a newsreader, interviewer or reporter in any news programmes unless, exceptionally, it is editorially justified.

Ofcom is also investigating two other programmes under the ‘politicians as presenters’ rule – Jacob Rees-Mogg’s State of the Nation on June 13th, which covered a stabbing incident in Nottingham, and Saturday Morning with Esther and Phil on May 13th, featuring an interview with Howard Cox – the Reform UK Party’s candidate for the London Mayoral Election – speaking live from an anti-Ultra Low Emission Zone demonstration. Ofcom is also assessing the latter programme’s compliance with Rule 5.1 of the Broadcasting Code which requires that news, in whatever form, must be presented with due impartiality.

Finally, Ofcom is investigating an episode of Laurence Fox which aired on June 16th,which was guest presented by Martin Daubney in Laurence Fox’s absence. It included a discussion about immigration and asylum policy, particularly in relation to the issue of small boats crossing the English Channel, and featured an interview with the leader of the political party Reform UK, Richard Tice.

Specifically, Ofcom is investigating this programme under Rules 5.11 and 5.12 of the Broadcasting Code which require 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.

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