A list of the latest complaints to Ofcom about GB News

A look at some of the recent complaints to the communications regulator about the opinion-orientated, ‘Fox-style’ channel.

Rishi Sunak Prime Minister on GB News

When it comes to Ofcom complaints, GB News has to be the regulator’s most regular offender.  Barely a month goes by without news of some kind of grievance about the right-wing ‘news’ channel.

With the Prime Minister in the GB News’ hotseat this week, getting asked questions by audience members about tax cuts, the NHS, and his Rwanda plan, we thought it would be a good time to list the latest complaints to Ofcom about the opinion-orientated, ‘Fox-style’ station.

Presenter Neil Oliver links coronavirus vaccine to ‘turbo cancer’

The outspoken anti-vaxxer Neil Oliver caused outrage in January when he claimed Covid-19 vaccines were causing ‘turbo cancer.’  The broadcaster watchdog received 70 complaints when, during an episode aired on the channel, Oliver implied there was a link between Pfizer coronavirus vaccinations and an excess of 100,000 deaths in Britain since January 2022.

“While young people drop dead and otherwise healthy people of all ages are harvested in hitherto unheard of numbers by heart disease and turbo cancer, our old friend Pfizer has been spending some of its recently acquired massive wealth buying companies that develop drugs to treat heart disease and turbo cancer.

“I don’t know about you, but until just a few months ago, I’d never heard of turbo cancer,” said the former BBC historian.

In a statement almost a month later, Ofcom said it recognised that Oliver’s views were ‘controversial’ but did not believe the presenter had materially misled the audience.

“In line with freedom of expression, our rules allow broadcasters to cover controversial themes and topics,” the regulator said. “We recognise that these brief comments were the presenter’s personal view and did not materially mislead the audience. We therefore will not be pursuing this further.”

The decision not to pursue the case was also met with outcry.

“All pedlars of wild conspiracy theories will be encouraged by Ofcom’s decision to reject complaints about the GB News presenter Neil Oliver linking the coronavirus vaccine to something called “turbo cancer,” said Guardian columnist Jane Martinson.

Rishi Sunak’s GB News’ appearance

Then there was the Prime Minister’s appearance on the channel’s People Forum this week, which also sparked a deluge of complaints to Ofcom, 122 to be precise. Most of the grievances were related to the question-and-answer style format of the programme, with viewers finding that the style enabled the PM to select the questions that promoted his own party and criticised his opponents. Others had issues with the timing of the programme, with by-elections round the corner. The audience was reportedly selected by the pollster Survation. The pollster’s founder Damian Lyons Lowe, incidentally, worked as Nigel Farage’s pollster and served as a key advisor.

Viewers took to X to share their disproval of the Q&A-style show with the Prime Minister, during a general election year, and with by-elections looming.

“To ensure the fairness of this forum you really need to have a fact-checking system in place to confirm what claims Rishi Sunak is making. Some of the answers sound like pure fantasy with zero challenge from the audience or presenter. #peoplesforum #GBNews,” wrote one disgruntled viewer.

Lib Dems urge Ofcom to investigate GB News over Post Office scandal coverage

Following alleged bias in the channel’s coverage of the Post Office scandal in January, the Liberal Democrats urged the broadcast regulator to investigate. The party claimed that GB News’ hosts Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg targeted opposition politicians but overlooked Conservative MPs’ roles in the scandal.

A letter to the watchdog from Daisy Cooper, the party’s deputy leader, raised specific concern about a segment on the channel in which Farage made a series of allegations connected to Ed Davey, who was the business minister with responsibility for the Post Office from 2010 to 2012.

“I was appalled to watch Nigel Farage, the chairman of Reform, launch a fictitious monologue about leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey, with a number of factual inaccuracies,” Cooper wrote. “The Liberal Democrats were offered no right of reply. This therefore breaches both the accuracy and impartiality elements of the Ofcom code.”

Cooper also said she had no confidence that GB News’ presenter Lee Anderson, the former Tory deputy chair, would be impartial in hosting a GB News show, given that he had used Prime Minister’s Questions to target Davey.

“Farage, Rees-Mogg and Anderson cannot be trusted to report on this issue fairly and accurately, as your code requires,” she wrote. “We urgently need an investigation into whether GB News is breaching your impartiality and accuracy rules.”

The station’s coverage of the story certainly had the backing of fellow right-wing media.

‘Lib Dems in meltdown over GB News attacks on Sir Ed Davey as they demand Ofcom probe,” splashed the Express.

Laurence Fox’s comments about Ava Evans

One complaint – or 8,000 to be accurate – that the channel didn’t get away with, was that made about former presenter Laurence Fox. The actor-turned-politician was suspended by GB News amid an internal investigation and a probe by Ofcom which had received more than 8,000 complaints over on-air comments about female journalist Ava Evans. Fox made a series of personal remarks about the political correspondent on the Dan Wootton Tonight show. Wootton was also suspended by the channel over the incident.

On his sacking, Fox said he felt relief and dubbed the broadcaster “GB joke.”

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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