Ofcom considering 'statutory sanction' against GB News after Sunak Q&A ruled to have broken rules

An hour-long programme with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on GB News broke impartiality rules, Ofcom have ruled. Credit: GB News/PA

Broadcasting regulator Ofcom is considering "statutory sanction" against GB News after concluding an hour-long programme with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak broke impartiality rules.

The watchdog was investigating a "People's Forum" episode - which featured Mr Sunak in a question-and-answer session with a studio audience about the government’s policies and performance - after it received 547 complaints earlier this year.

While Ofcom acknowledged the contents of the programme would focus "mainly on the Conservatives Party," it found fault with the lack of challenge and alternatives views presented by GB News throughout.

GB News has accused Ofcom of trying to “silence” the channel by not allowing the “public to question politicians directly” following the decision.

The regulator highlighted several examples where the broadcaster failed to remain impartial, including audience members not being able to challenge Mr Sunak's responses to their questions, nor the presenter of the show doing it to any "meaningful extent".

Ofcom also said the prime minister criticised aspects of the Labour Party’s policies and performance.

While this is allowed, GB News is responsible for ensuring due impartiality is preserved.

"Neither the Labour Party’s views or positions on those issues, or any other significant views on those issues were included in the programme," Ofcom concluded.

In a statement, GB News said: “Ofcom’s finding against GB News today is an alarming development in its attempt to silence us by standing in the way of a forum that allows the public to question politicians directly.

“The regulator’s threat to punish a news organisation with sanctions for enabling people to challenge their own prime minister strikes at the heart of democracy at a time when it could not be more vital.”

GB News also called itself the “people’s channel” and the “independently selected group of undecided voters” questioned Mr Sunak “robustly, intelligently, and freely”.

The channel also said that the Ofcom ruling was a “watershed moment that should terrify anyone who believes, as we do, that the media’s role is to give a voice to the people of the United Kingdom”.

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