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GB News escapes sanctions after Ofcom finds five shows broke broadcasting rules

Ofcom has ruled that five episodes of GB News programmes hosted by serving Tory MPs have broken broadcasting rules.

They include two episodes of Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg’s State of the Nation, and three of a show fronted by married Northern MP duo Esther McVey of Tatton Constituency in Cheshire and Shipley, West Yorkshire member Philip Davies.

Politicians are not usually allowed to host news programmes under Ofcom rules, although they are allowed to present current affair shows. GB News had argued this distinction was unclear and that the presenters in question were the opinionated presenters of “current affairs” programmes.

The episodes were broadcast in May and June 2023, and included a mix of news and current affairs, Ofcom said.

It added that during the programmes the “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.”

Its statement added: “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.”

Ofcom chose not to sanction GB News for breaking the rules, but said it could face a statutory sanction should any future lapses occur: “We are clear…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,” the regulator said.

Statuary sanctions Ofcom can impose include a financial penalty or the shortening, suspending or revoking of a licence.

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