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A series of Ofcom investigations today concluded that five programmes on GB news featuring politicians acting as news presenters broke broadcasting due impartiality rules.

Under the Broadcasting Code, news, in whatever form, must be presented with due impartiality. Additionally, a politician cannot be a newsreader, news interviewer or news reporter unless, exceptionally, there is editorial justification.

Ofcom say: "In line with the right to freedom of expression, broadcasters have editorial freedom to offer audiences a wide range of programme formats, including using politicians to present current affairs or other non-news programmes. Politicians may also appear in broadcast news content as an interviewee or any other type of guest.

Individual programmes can also feature a mix of news and non-news content and move between the two genres. If, however, a licensee chooses to use a politician as a presenter in a programme containing both news and current affairs content, it must take steps to ensure they do not act as a newsreader, news interviewer or news reporter in that programme."

Ofcom concluded: "All five programmes in question contained a mix of news and current affairs content. We found that 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."

"These are the first breaches of Rules 5.1 and 5.3 recorded against GB News. Since opening these investigations, there has only been one further programme which has raised issues warranting investigation under these rules. We are clear, however, 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."

GB News have responded: "These decisions go against established precedent and raises serious questions about Ofcom’s oversight over its own regulations. It appears that Ofcom is trying to extend the regulations, rather than enforcing definitions which have been settled for many years...

"GB News is a regulated broadcast channel and takes its obligations very seriously.

We are committed to continuing to feature serving politicians hosting programmes and will continue to do so – just as other Ofcom regulated services have in the past and still do."

GB News is available on Sky channel 512.


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