GB News Faces Sanctions After Breaking Impartiality Rules

Our Head of Communications, Annunziata Rees-Mogg, comments on the ridiculous ruling from Ofcom sanctioning GB News


GB News has found itself in hot water with Ofcom, the media regulator. An investigation concluded that the channel breached due impartiality rules during a live program titled “People’s Forum: The Prime Minister.” The channel is now facing statutory sanctions.

It is incomprehensible that a live audience, who mainly asked hostile questions to the current leader of our country, should incur sanctions upon the broadcaster. Regardless of whether you like GB News – or Rishi Sunak – this is a clear, and frightening, invasion of our right to free speech.

This programme was not a puff piece nor a party political broadcast. Questions included probing into the injuries caused by Covid vaccines, the Rwanda plan’s illegality and what, if anything, could the government show it had achieved since winning a landslide in 2019. The audience were not Rishi’s fan club – they were selected by an independent polling company to reflect a range of viewpoints.

Of the 16 questions Rishi faced, 15 were quite clearly not friendly. And yet Ofcom, one of the first so-called “super Quangos”, is set to punish the channel for broadcasting our own Prime Minister. It claimed they did not represent different viewpoints. However, it seems watching it quite clear that the audience’s viewpoints were on the whole very different to Mr Sunak’s or the Conservative Government.

Having a quick look at the make up of the great and good who make up Ofcom’s board is hard to see why these people should be arbiters of what the British people may – or may not – watch from the comfort of their own homes. Although the Chief Executive, Melanie Dawes, is married to a journalist, she appears to have no media experience at all. She is however a lifelong civil servant and one time head of diversity at the Civil Service.

We have heard of the bonfire of the Quangos many times. As their overreach extends yet further, and whilst they remain arm’s length from ministerial (ie democratic) control, we must look again at what they are allowed to do – and in many cases, whether they need to exist at all, sapping money from taxpayers’ pockets.

We need a free and vibrant press, not a suppressed and closed one. Yes, all views should be available, but this ruling does nothing to support that – it merely closes down one side of the debate – which unsurprisingly is the right of centre.

If the Conservative governments of the last 14 years had got to grips with the ever-expanding quangocracy we now suffer from, such poor decisions would not be inflicted on our freedom.