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Ofcom: ‘Significant concerns’ over GB News editorial control following Laurence Fox Dan Wootton Tonight comments

Ofcom has said it has “significant concerns” about GB News‘ editorial control of its live output after ruling that former host Laurence Fox made “unambiguously misogynistic” comments on Dan Wootton Tonight about a female journalist in September.

The broadcast regulator today upheld 8,867 complaints made about the remarks.

In the broadcast under complaint Fox described Joe political correspondent Ava Evans as a “little woman” and “pathetic and embarrassing” and asked “who would want to shag that?”

Ofcom said the remarks “constituted a highly personal attack” on Evans and that they breached rule 2.3 of the Broadcasting Code, which holds that “material which may cause offence [should be] justified by the context.”

Ofcom added that Fox’s comments “reduced [Evans’] contribution to a broadcast discussion on mental health – in her professional capacity as a political journalist – to a judgment on whether she, or women like her who publicly expressed their political opinions, were sexually desirable to men.

“As such, we considered that Mr Fox’s comments were degrading and demeaning both to Ms Evans and women generally and were clearly and unambiguously misogynistic.”

Turning to Wootton’s response, Ofcom said his “reaction and limited challenge in response… exacerbated [the potential for offence] by contributing to the narrative in which a woman’s value was judged by her physical appearance”.

The fact no apology was read out in the rest of the programme, the regulator went on “indicated that GB News’ editorial control of this live programme had been inadequate.”

Ofcom concluded that it has serious concerns over GB news’ editorial control over its content, and will be seeking further details of compliance procedures at the ‘opinion-led’ news channel: “In light of the circumstances of this case, we have significant concerns about GB News’ editorial control of its live output,” it said. “We are requiring GB News to provide further detailed information about its compliance practices in this area for our consideration, and requesting it attends a meeting at our offices to discuss this.”

GB News is already under around a dozen other investigations by Ofcom, mostly relating to impartiality requirements, and most recently relating to its February ‘People’s Forum’ with PM Rishi Sunak.

GB News CEO Angelos Frangopoulos said last September he had been “appalled” by the remarks, and Fox and Wootton were immediately suspended following the incident. Fox was subsequently fired.

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