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U.K.’s GB News Broke “Impartiality” Rules With Politicians Acting as News Presenters, Says Regulator

The upstart GB News network, the U.K. equivalent of Fox News Channel, has been found to have breached media regulations around politicians moonlighting as TV news presenters.

“A series of Ofcom investigations today concluded that five programs on GB News featuring politicians acting as news presenters broke broadcasting due impartiality rules,” Ofcom, Britain’s media regulator, said in a decision on Monday. Under the UK’s Broadcasting Code, TV news must be presented “with due impartiality,” which bars politicians from reading the news or interviewing a news subject, “unless, exceptionally, there is editorial justification.”

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GB News, the U.K. news channel launched in June 2021 as a right-leaning alternative to the likes of the BBC and ITV News, was found by Ofcom on five occasions to have wrongfully featured politicians as news channel hosts who are otherwise seen on British television guests as partial members of Parliament.

The media regulator investigated two editions of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s State of the Nation and Friday Morning with Esther and Phil, and one edition of Saturday Morning with Esther and Phil, which aired on GB News in May and June 2023. Like Rees-Mogg, the husband and wife duo of Esther McVey and Philip Davies are serving Members of Parliament in the U.K.

“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,” Ofcom ruled.

A separate episode of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s State of the Nation was judged to have remained within the accepted bounds of U.K.’s media regulations. Ofcom said it had put GB News “on notice that any repeated breaches of Rules 5.1 and 5.3 may result in the imposition of a statutory sanction.”

The Hollywood Reporter reached out to GB News for any comment on the Ofcom ruling around its breach of broadcast impartiality rules.

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