GB News in breach of Ofcom rules for second time over comments made about Covid vaccine
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Ofcom has found GB News to be in breach of broadcasting rules for a second time – and requested a meeting to discuss the programme’s approach to compliance. The Mark Steyn programme is under fire after claims made by one of the guests about the Covid vaccine.
The interview found to be in breach was between presenter Mark Steyn and a guest, Dr Naomi Wolf. In the interview, Wolf made serious claims about the Covid vaccine, including that the rollout amounted to a premeditated crime – “mass murder” – and compared it to the actions of “doctors in pre-Nazi Germany”.
Ofcom received 422 complaints over the comments, which called the comments “dangerous” and included “unopposed” “misinformation”. Ofcom has since found the comments to be in breach of Rule 2.1.
It was found GB News did not take the required steps to protect viewers. The broadcasting regulator found the comments made by Wolf could potentially impact viewers’ decisions about their health and were therefore potentially harmful.
Ofcom has stressed the importance of the right of freedom of expression, which allows broadcasters to transmit programmes that include controversial and challenging views including about Covid vaccines or conspiracy theories. However, Ofcom further stressed that the Broadcasting Code includes a clear requirement that if such content could be harmful, the broadcaster must adequately protect its audience.
The Ofcom investigation concluded that GB News did not meet this requirement. This was because Wolf’s comments on a serious conspiracy theory about the Covid vaccine were allowed to go unchallenged and without context.
Ofcom also noted that there was no scrutiny of the evidence she claimed to support her comments. It was also taken into account that as a doctor, the programme presented Wolf as a figure of authority with expertise in the safety of Covid vaccines.
A spokesperson for Ofcom said: “We consider this would have lent credibility to her unchallenged claims. Of particular concern was her significant and alarming claim that “mass murder” was taking place through the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccinations, which she repeated three times.”