Five breaches of Ofcom‘s due impartiality rules for GB News Radio

Five GB News Radio programmes have been found in breach of due impartiality rules.

Ofcom received a complaint over the five programmes presented by politicians, who are allowed to present shows, but can’t be used as a newsreader, interviewer or reporter unless, exceptionally, it is editorially justified.

The programmes were 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, broadcast on GB News Radio in May and June 2023.

On 9th May, Rees-Mogg read out breaking news about the verdict in a civil trial against former US president Donald Trump.

On 12th May McVey and Davies reported on what Ofcom called “a number of topical and developing news stories”.

They acted “as newsreaders and news interviewers” again on 13th May, which Ofcom said was a news report, not current affairs.

On 13th June, Rees-Mogg gave an update on a news story, by interviewing GB News Radio’s home and security correspondent who was reporting live from the scene. Ofcom said this was “clearly news”.

On 23rd June, McVey and Davies interrupted a studio discussion to report that a doctors’ strike had been announced and as it was breaking news, Ofcom said it was “an example of news content”.

This programme also went live to Downing Street to speak to GB News Radio’s economics and business editor to discuss interest rates and to get a report on a meeting between the Chancellor and representatives of the banks, which Ofcom said was classed as a news report.

Ofcom found that these five programmes breached the Code because the politicians acted as a newsreader, news interviewer or news reporter in sequences which constituted news for the purposes of Section Five of the Code, without exceptional justification, and news was therefore not presented with due impartiality.

Another of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s State of the Nation programmes was not pursued for due impartiality because Ofcom said there was exceptional editorial justification.

GB News Radio was found in breach of Rules 5.1 and 5.3 for the five programmes and the station has been put on notice that any repeated breaches of these rules may result in a statutory sanction.