GB News faces sanctions after Ofcom rule break for PM forum

Source: GB News

UK media watchdog Ofcom has said it is considering issuing a sanction against GB News after it ruled an appearance of the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on the controversial news channel’s show broke broadcasting impartiality rules.

The GB News show People’s Forum: The Prime Minister which aired in February, saw Sunak face a series of questions in front of a live audience ahead of the 2025 elections. The PM was grilled on topics ranging from Covid, Ukraine, immigration, housing and the NHS.

According to the Ofcom, it received 547 complaints about the hour-long question-and-answer session following Sunak’s comments.

The organisation said given the major matters under discussion on the show, GB News had the responsibility to “ensure that an appropriately wide range of significant views was given due weight in the programme or in other clearly linked and timely programmes.”

The media regulator explained although it recognises the programme’s focus was mainly on the Conservative Party’s policies, it does not mean the network could not comply with impartiality rules.

Ofcom’s investigation found that the PM was able to set out future policies that his Government planned to implement, if re-elected in the forthcoming UK General Election, which the audience nor the presenter challenged or referred to significant alternative views. Audience members were not able to challenge Sunak’s responses and the presenter did not do this to any meaningful extent.

The group also said Labour Party’s views or positions on those issues, or any other significant views on those issues were not included in the programme, despite criticism of the party’s policies and performance. GB News also failed to offer a future programme in which an appropriately wide range of significant views on the major matter would be presented and given due weight.

Ofcom determined that following serious and repeated breach of these rules it will launch a procedure for the consideration of a statutory sanction against GB News.

“Given the very high compliance risks this programme presented, we found GB News’s approach to compliance to be wholly insufficient, and consider it could have, and should have, taken additional steps to mitigate these risks,” said Ofcom. “We found that an appropriately wide range of significant viewpoints were not presented and given due weight in the People’s Forum: The Prime Minister, nor was due impartiality preserved through clearly linked and timely programmes. As a result, we consider that the Prime Minister had a mostly uncontested platform to promote the policies and performance of his Government in a period preceding a UK General Election.”

GB News response

GB News hit back at the regulator, claiming Ofcom’s findings marks 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 right wing network said the show gave an independently selected group of “undecided voters”the opportunity to challenge the Prime Minister without interference. It said the Q&A session put Sunak under constant pressure and covered topics which mattered to audience members.

In a statement A GB News spokesperson said: “Its finding today is a watershed moment that should terrify anyone who believes, as we do, that the media’s role is to give a voice to the people of the United Kingdom, especially those who all too often feel unheard or ignored by their politicians.”

“We are proud to be the People’s Channel and we will never stop fighting for the right of everyone in the UK, whatever their political persuasion, to have their perspective heard.”

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