All the times GB News has broken Ofcom rules 

As a new investigation opens, what are the times the channel has breached watchdog regulations?

Rishi Sunak Prime Minister on GB News

As yet another investigation is launched by Ofcom into GB News, we take a look at all the times the right-wing channel has been found in breach of watchdog rules during its less than three years in action. 

Following the controversial channel’s People’s Forum Q&A with the Prime Minister, around 500 complaints were raised to Ofcom, leading the UK’s independent communications regulator to open its latest investigation related to impartiality rules.

Since April 2022, the channel has been found to have breached Ofcom rules on five separate occasions while 12 remain ongoing, here is a round-up of the breaches. 

Covid-16 vaccine comments

Ofcom found GB News in breach of rules for the first time over potentially harmful content being shared by the presenter Mark Steyn related to the Covid-19 vaccine during his programme on 21 April, 2022. 

An investigation was launched after complainants argued that the presenter made “dangerous” and “fatally flawed conclusions” after he wrongly claimed figures from the UK Health Security Agency data provided evidence of a third booster causing hospitalisation and death. 

The watchdog said Steyn had used health data to make false claims about the Covid-19 booster vaccine that were found to have “materially misled” viewers. 

Covid-19 vaccine conspiracy comments (x2)

Conspiracy theorist Dr Naomi Wolf was given a platform to promote an extreme Covid-19 vaccine conspiracy theory “without challenge or context”, Ofcom found.

In October 2022 while speaking on Mark Steyn’s show, Wolf went on to compare the vaccine rollout to “mass murder” and the actions to that of “doctors in pre-Nazi Germany”. 

GB News argued that her comments were “not excessive and a reasonable comparison” yet Ofcom found “the programme did not provide adequate protection to viewers from the potentially harmful content.”

Richard Tice left unchallenged  

Former Brexit Party MEP Martin Daubney stood in for Laurence Fox in one of his shows on 16 June, 2023, and interviewed Richard Tice, leader of the previously named Brexit Party, now Reform UK. 

Daubney talked with Tice on the contentious topic of immigration and asylum policy, whilst sharing his own views, and was found to have failed to give appropriate wide range to significant views and thus breached impartiality guidelines. 

This investigation concluded : “We found that Mr Tice presented his position on a matter of major political controversy and a major matter of current public policy with insufficient challenge, and the limited alternative views presented were dismissed.”

Esther McVey and Philip Davies – Tory MPs question each other

Impartiality was once again thrown into serious question when Chancellor Jeremy Hunt was interviewed by fellow Tory MPs Esther McVey and Philip Davies ahead of the Spring Budget, who were accused of hosting a ‘love-in’ with their colleague. This encounter was found to breach rules for failing “to represent a wide range of significant views”.

The regulator said, “there were only very limited references to wider perspectives on UK economic and fiscal policy in the context of the forthcoming budget”, and that the channel “should have taken additional steps to ensure that due impartiality was preserved”. 

Don’t Kill Cash campaign, The Live Desk

 Most recently in December 2023 GB News breached two rules related to its campaign “Don’t Kill Cash”, following a number of complaints. 

Concerning an episode of The Live Desk the regulator ruled that the programme’s coverage of its campaign “failed to preserve due impartiality in its coverage of this matter, with only limited references to different perspectives”.

Its campaign calling for legislative change was found to be a “matter of political controversy and relating to current public policy”, which GB News was found to have “clearly endorsed” therefore breaching another rule on influencing Government policy. 

Going back, before the channel hit the TV screens, GB News Radio had already found itself in breach of broadcast standards. 

During a discussion about a by-election in Erdington on To The Point show, Ofcom found a list of all candidates standing was not given as required under rule 6.10. 

 GB News Radio said in response the presenters, “were in the process of reading out the names for radio listeners but did not complete that process. However, our presenters did say to ‘check out the list on social media’”.

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

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