GB News breaches Ofcom code for fifth time

GB News breaches Ofcom code for fifth time

Ofcom has issued a conclusion on one of its six current investigations into GB News.

Specifically the regulator has ruled that the broadcaster breached two rules of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code on its show The Live Desk on 7 July 2023 where GB News included its branded campaign “Don’t Kill Cash” about protecting the status of cash as legal tender until 2050, which prompted a number of complaints from viewers.

Rule 5.4 requires all Ofcom licensees to exclude all expressions of the views and opinions of the person providing the service, while Rule 5.5 requires broadcasters to preserve due impartiality on matters of political or industrial controversy and matters of public policy.

Ofcom found GB News “clearly endorsed” its campaign by displaying a QR code and on-screen messaging encouraging viewers to sign a petition calling for legislative change. The campaign was further promoted across GB News programming. It added that the programme “failed to preserve due impartiality in its coverage of this matter” with limited references to other perspectives.

GB News argued unsuccessfully that the “Don’t Kill Cash” campaign was not about a matter of political controversy or current policy, and therefore rules 5.4 and 5.5 would not apply, and due impartiality was achieved by including arguments in favour of cashless transactions.

In the conclusion of its investigation the regulator said: “We expect GB News to take careful account of this Decision in its compliance of future programming. We will publish the outcome of our investigations into five other GB News programmes relating to this campaign in due course.”

Since April 2022, Ofcom has found GB News in breach of its broadcasting rules on four other occasions.

The regulator currently has an additional 13 open investigations into the broadcaster.

A spokesperson for Ofcom told The Media Leader it was “working to conclude [the investigations] as quickly as possible in line with our published procedures”.

GB News walking a tightrope?

Speaking on The Media Leader Podcast in October, columnist Nick Manning said that GB News was “treading a very difficult tightrope” between desiring the legitimacy that comes with holding a broadcaster license and the unregulated freedom of internet publishing.

When asked if he thought GB News would retain its broadcasting license in a year’s time, he said: “Yes, the short answer is I think it will still have its license next year because I think they will clean up their act sufficiently in order to do that because they get a degree of respectability from being a broadcast channel that you do not get if you are just a pure internet player.”

In the same episode, editor-in-chief Omar Oakes questioned whether GB News was “goading Ofcom” to revoke its license by repeatedly flaunting regulations.

Listen to the clip:


In a subsequent column, Manning analysed the “remarkable similarities” between X (formerly Twitter) since Elon Musk Took over and GB News since its launch.

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