GB News Programmes Presented By Jacob Rees-Mogg Broke Impartiality Rules, Says Ofcom

The broadcasting watchdog says it is putting the channel "on notice".
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GB News programmes presented by Tory MPs including Jacob Rees-Mogg broke impartiality rules, broadcasting watchdog Ofcom has ruled.

In a ruling published this morning, they said they were putting the channel “on notice” and would impose sanctions if the rules are broken again.

GB News said it was “a chilling development for all broadcasters, for freedom of speech, and for everyone in the United Kingdom”.

Ofcom investigated two of Rees-Mogg’s ‘State Of The Nation’ programme and three other programmes presented by his Conservative colleagues Esther McVey and Philip Davies.

They said the shows breached rules 5.1 and 5.3 of the Broadcasting Code on the use of politicians to present news and current affairs programmes.

The Ofcome ruling said: “All five programmes in question contained a mix of news and current affairs content.

“We found that host politicians acted as newsreaders, news interviewers or news reporters in sequences which clearly constituted news – including reporting breaking news events – without exceptional justification.

“News was, therefore, not presented with due impartiality. Politicians have an inherently partial role in society and news content presented by them is likely to be viewed by audiences in light of that perceived bias.

“In our view, the use of politicians to present the news risks undermining the integrity and credibility of regulated broadcast news.”

The watchdog’s ruling went on: “Since opening these investigations, there has only been one further programme which has raised issues warranting investigation under these rules.

“We are clear, however, that GB News is put on notice that any repeated breaches of Rules 5.1 and 5.3 may result in the imposition of a statutory sanction.”

In a statement, GB News said they were “deeply concerned” by the judgement.

The channel said: “Ofcom is obliged by law to promote free speech and media plurality, and to ensure that alternative voices are heard.

“Its latest decisions, in some cases a year after the programme aired, contravene those duties.

“Extraordinarily, Ofcom has determined that a programme which it acknowledges was impartial and lacking in any expression of opinion, still somehow breaches its impartiality rules just because an imaginary viewer might think otherwise.

“Ofcom has now arbitrarily changed the test so that it is no longer ‘Was it impartial?’ but ‘Could someone think it might not be?’

“This is a chilling development for all broadcasters, for freedom of speech, and
for everyone in the United Kingdom.”

But Lib Dem deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “This decision is long overdue. Now it’s clear that Ofcom must get tougher on Conservative Party stooges who fail their audiences by posing as fake newsreaders.

“The regulator has to start imposing fines on broadcasters who dedicate endless hours to Conservative party propaganda without proper balance.”


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