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An Ofcom investigation has today found that an episode of The Live Desk, which aired on GB News on 7 July 2023, broke broadcasting due impartiality rules.

The programme promoted a GB News branded campaign, “Don’t Kill Cash”. The campaign called on viewers to sign a petition for Government to introduce legislation to protect the status of cash as legal tender and as a widely accepted means of payment in the UK until at least 2050.

As a result, Ofcom opened six investigations into various programmes on GB News related to this content. Today’s case is the first of these investigations to conclude.

Ofcom stated: "Our investigation sought to determine whether GB News had complied with these rules. It did not seek to question the merits of the campaign itself.

We found that, at the time of broadcast, preserving access to cash – including whether to mandate its acceptance – was a matter of political controversy and a matter of current public policy.

We took into account, among other things, that this issue was a matter of political debate as the Financial Services and Markets Bill passed through Parliament, before receiving Royal Assent on 29 June 2023 – four days before GB News launched its campaign.

The stated aim of GB News’s campaign and petition was to call for legislative change, representing an attempt to influence Government policy.

Our investigation also found that, by promoting the GB News-branded campaign, the views and opinions of GB News Ltd – the person providing the service – on the matter of whether to mandate the acceptance of cash were expressed.

Factors we took into account included that: GB News clearly endorsed the campaign; the QR code and messaging shown on-screen encouraged viewers to sign a GB News petition calling for legislative change; and the campaign was promoted across GB News programming.

We also found that the programme failed to preserve due impartiality in its coverage of this matter, with only limited references to different perspectives.

As a result, we have recorded a breach of Rules 5.4 and 5.5 of the Broadcasting Code against GB News. We expect GB News to take careful account of this decision in its future programming."

Earlier this Autumn, an Ofcom investigation has concluded that a programme presented by Martin Daubney (standing in for Laurence Fox), which aired on GB News on 16 June 2023, breached due impartiality rules.

Ofcom received a complaint about this weekly topical debate programme, which on this occasion was presented by Martin Daubney, a former Brexit Party MEP and former deputy leader of the Reclaim Party.

During the programme Martin Daubney gave his views on the topic of immigration and asylum policy, in the context of controversy over small boats crossing the English Channel. He also interviewed the leader of the Reform Party, Richard Tice.

Ofcom's decision: "Given this programme featured in-depth discussion about immigration and asylum policy – a matter of major political controversy and current public policy – we consider that GB News should have taken additional steps to ensure that due impartiality was preserved.

Our investigation found Mr Tice presented his views on immigration and asylum policy with insufficient challenge, and the limited alternative views presented in the programme were dismissed...

"The programme therefore did not include and give due weight to an appropriately wide range of significant views, as required by the Code...

GB News accepted that the content was not compliant with the heightened special impartiality requirements in the Code. We expect GB News to take careful account of this decision in its compliance of future programming."

GB News is available on Sky channel 512.

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