GB News has been summoned for a meeting with Ofcom after being found in breach of its Broadcasting Code for the second time in the space of two months, both pertaining to Covid-19 vaccine comments on Mark Steyn’s former show. The right-leaning news network has, however, escaped a fine.
Ofcom has this morning sanctioned the right-leaning UK news network for an episode last October during which a guest, Dr Naomi Wolf, said the Covid-19 vaccine rollout amounted to “mass murder” and was comparable to the actions of “doctors in pre-Nazi Germany.”
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Following more than 400 complaints to the regulator, Ofcom found GB News to be in breach of the section of its code that states: “Generally accepted standards must be applied to the contents of television and radio services…so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from the inclusion in such services of harmful and/or offensive material.”
Ofcom said it was “particularly concerned about the significant and alarming claim about mass murder,” given that this could have an impact on viewers’ health. Wolf used the “mass murder” line several times and also described the vaccine rollout as a “massive crime.”
While Ofcom has “made clear that in line with the right to freedom of expression, broadcasters are free to transmit programmes that include controversial and challenging views about any topic,” Wolf’s comments in this instance went unchallenged and failed to protect the audience, it said.
Responding, GB News said the show was “just one small voice raising legitimate doubts as new information emerged – a passionate and plaintive voice certainly but still a small one.” It welcomed Ofcom’s assertion that no subject is too controversial to be aired with appropriate context and said it would “continue to broadcast programmes on that basis.”
GB News was sanctioned for the first time since launch in early March for a different episode of Steyn’s show in which the host quoted official data from the UK Health Security Agency to say that the vaccines caused higher infection, hospitalization and death rates.
Due to the pair of “significant code breaches,” Ofcom has requested a meeting with GB News to discuss compliance, although it isn’t obliged to attend.
Steyn left GB News earlier this year due to a contract dispute regarding whether he would have to pay Ofcom fines if found liable, although Ofcom will not fine GB News on this occasion.
Examining Covid disinformation has become a major part of Ofcom’s work over the past couple of years. The BBC has also fallen foul of the issue and was forced to apologize recently when a presenter failed to challenge a vaccine-sceptic cardiologist, who claimed the jabs could cause heart damage.
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