• Saturday, April 13, 2024


Watchdog probes impartiality breach in Sunak’s TV appearance

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak looks on during a media visit to Harlow Police Station in Essex on February 16, 2024 in Harlow, United Kingdom. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Kimberly RodriguesBy: Kimberly Rodrigues

The independent media watchdog in Britain launched an investigation on Monday (19) to assess whether there was a breach of impartiality rules in a recent television appearance by prime minister Rishi Sunak, after receiving about 500 complaints from viewers.

The Office of Communications (OFCOM) said its probe covers the ‘People’s Forum: The Prime Minister’ programme which aired on ‘GB News’ last Monday. Under its Broadcasting Code, OFCOM requires a wide range of views to be expressed to ensure impartiality within a political setting.

“We have received around 500 complaints about the programme which aired on ‘GB News’ on 12 February 2024,” an OFCOM statement said.

“We are investigating under Rules 5.11 and 5.12 of the Broadcasting Code, which provides additional due impartiality requirements for programmes dealing with matters of major political controversy and major matters relating to current public policy.

Specifically, Rules 5.11 and 5.12 require that an appropriately wide range of significant views must be included and given due weight in such programmes, or in clearly linked and timely programmes,” it said.

During the broadcast, the show’s presenter said the questions addressed to Sunak were from undecided voters ahead of a general election later this year and had not been seen in advance by Sunak or by the channel.

A Downing Street spokesperson said the prime minister did not regret taking part in the show and that “this is a matter for OFCOM”.

While the watchdog’s “due impartiality” requirement in current affairs and political output does not require the same amount of time to be given to opposing views, audiences must be exposed to alternative ways of thinking. It has the power to impose fines or other sanctions if a media outlet is found in breach of its Broadcasting Code.

‘GB News’, a right-leaning, relatively new network, is being investigated by OFCOM for other shows as well, including over impartiality issues. (PTI)

Related Stories