GB News breaks Impartiality Rules says Ofcom

Posted on Monday 20th May 2024 by Johnnie Larkin
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GB News is in trouble again.. This time for their programme People’s Forum: The Prime Minister.

Ofcom says they received 547 complaints about the programme in which GB News broke broadcasting due impartiality rules.

The hour-long live programme featured the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, in a question-and-answer session with a studio audience about the Government’s policies and performance, presented in the context of the forthcoming UK General Election.

Ofcom have recorded a breach of Rules 5.11 and 5.12 of the Broadcasting Code against GB News and are in the process for consideration of a statutory sanction against GB News.

Ofcom said: “In considering whether the programme was duly impartial, we took into account a range of factors, such as: the audience’s questions to the Prime Minister; the Prime Minister’s responses; the presenter’s contribution; and whether due impartiality was preserved through clearly linked and timely programmes. Our investigation found, in summary, that:

• While some of the audience’s questions provided some challenge to, and criticism of, the Government’s policies and performance, audience members were not able to challenge the Prime Minister’s responses and the Presenter did not do this to any meaningful extent;

• The Prime Minister was able to set out future policies that his Government planned to implement, if re-elected in the forthcoming UK General Election. Neither the audience nor the Presenter challenged or otherwise referred to significant alternative views on these;

• The Prime Minister criticised aspects of the Labour Party’s policies and performance. While politicians are of course able to do this in programmes, broadcasters must ensure that due impartiality is preserved. Neither the Labour Party’s views or positions on those issues, or any other significant views on those issues were included in the programme or given due weight;

• GB News did not, and was not able to, include a reference in the programme to an agreed future programme in which an appropriately wide range of significant views on the major matter would be presented and given due weight.

GB News, at the time of the investigation, said: it had purposefully not been aware of the questions which audience members would ask the Prime Minister; made an editorial decision that the Presenter would not intervene or challenge views expressed; and that there were no other editorial means for alternative views to be included in the programme.