Ofcom Launches Proceedings to Sanction UK News Over Rishi Sunak's 'People's Forum' - Latest Global News

Ofcom Launches Proceedings to Sanction UK News Over Rishi Sunak’s ‘People’s Forum’

Ofcom has begun the process of imposing a sanction on GB News following a “serious and repeated” breach of its code in a year People’s Forum show in which Prime Minister Rishi Sunak answered questions from a live audience.

Ofcom said today that GB News had again failed to “maintain due impartiality”, a section of the regulator’s code that the right-wing news broadcaster has repeatedly fallen foul of, with Sunak having a “largely unchallenged platform to promote the policies.” and performance” was given to his government” in this case.

In The People’s Forum, Sunak was questioned by a live audience about the government’s policies and performance in the context of the upcoming UK general election.

The show drew almost immediate criticism for its one-sidedness, sparking more than 500 complaints to Ofcom.

“While some of the audience’s questions presented some challenge and criticism of the government’s policies and performance, viewers were unable to challenge the Prime Minister’s answers and the presenter did not do so to any significant extent,” Ofcom said. “The Prime Minister was able to set out some future policies that his government would like to implement if re-elected in the upcoming UK general election. Neither the audience nor the presenter challenged or otherwise referred to significant alternative views to this.”

Ofcom added that Sunak had criticized aspects of the views of the opposition Labor Party and that Labor’s position had nevertheless not been given “appropriate weight”. It said GB News had failed to include in the program information about a future program which could provide alternative views.

In its response, GB News said it was “strongly confident” that the current affairs program had complied with the code. It considered that rules were introduced because of “the important public policy issues discussed.” The People’s Forum is “a series of programs designed with a clear objective to enable members of the public to pose their own questions in a live broadcast directly to senior politicians, starting with the Prime Minister,” it said.

Ofcom has now given the go-ahead for the rare process to sanction GB News. Sanctions may include an order not to repeat content, an order to publish a correction or statement on Ofcom’s findings, financial penalties or, in extreme cases, the revocation of a license. GB News will be given the opportunity to comment on the sanction. Fines have in the past amounted to hundreds of thousands of pounds but are rare.

The news comes several months after GB News was written up by Ofcom for repeatedly breaching rules on the sensitive issue of politicians acting as news presenters.

Ofcom has since published guidance on the issue as well as warnings about future general election coverage across all broadcasters.

GB News has repeatedly breached the Ofcom code. March also saw a heated argument over Laurence Fox’s highly misogynistic tirade about a female journalist, which led to him being sacked by the network and presenter Dan Wootton leaving the station. Ofcom called GB News to a meeting at its offices over this breach and continues to investigate GB News for several other breaches of the Ofcom Code.

“An alarming development”

A GB News spokesman said: “Today’s ruling by Ofcom against GB News is an alarming development in its attempt to silence us by standing in the way of a forum that allows the public to question politicians directly.”

“The regulator’s threat to sanction a news organization for allowing people to challenge their own prime minister strikes at the heart of democracy at a time when it couldn’t be more important.”

“We cannot see how Ofcom can claim that this program lacked the ‘appropriately broad range of important views’ required to maintain due impartiality. It has not.”

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