Ofcom promises to investigate if Ashfield MP Lee Anderson is not impartial on new GB News show
and live on Freeview channel 276
Ofcom was responding after Coun David Hennigan, who is stepping down as Ashfield Council member for Sutton Central and New Cross at May’s local elections, wrote to them after GB News announced they were giving Mr Anderson his own show.
Ofcom confirmed MPs can present TV shows, but would have to promote all sides of political arguments during the “regulated period” before voters go the polls.
Mr Anderson, deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, is one of four Tory MPs the channel employs and Coun Hennigan said employing them could fall foul of strict broadcasting rules
Ofcom has now confirmed it will investigate if any of them breaks impartiality rules on broadcasting.
Replying to Coun Hennigan, Ofcom said: “Should we receive a complaint about a programme broadcast during the election period which raises issues warranting investigation under Rule 6.2 (or any of the Code rules), we will investigate according to our procedures.
“It is an editorial matter for broadcasters how they maintain due impartiality, and there is a range of editorial techniques they may use to do this, such as the inclusion of interviewees who can offer alternative viewpoints, a presenter summarising an alternative viewpoint, and/or a presenter challenging the views of interviewees.”
Coun Hennigan has now passed Ofcom’s letter on to GB News chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos and asked for a detailed response to it and assurances GB News will adhere to rules that relate to broadcasting impartiality in the run up to the local elections in May.
He said, “I am grateful to Ofcom for replying and confirming they are open to an investigation if any bias is shown by GB News.
“I have written to their chief executive asking for reassurances based on Ofcom’s letter.
“In Ashfield, we have been very clear that we don’t want to see a Fox News-type situation where MPs can break our proud tradition of broadcasting impartiality with impunity.
“It was only a few months ago, that Lee Anderson was lambasting his own colleagues for accepting lucrative second jobs.”
Replying to Coun Hennigan, GB News chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos said: “As a mainstream and mass-reach television and radio broadcaster licenced by Ofcom, we abide by the Broadcast Code and the law.”
Coun Hennigan has now written to Lucinda Duckett, GB News director of communications seeking the date for the start of Mr Anderson’s show.
He has also asked for reassurances of how its programming will meet impartiality rules.
Coun Hennigan said: “We now have Ofcom committing to investigate any breaches of their broadcasting code and GB News’ saying it will abide by the code.
"However, it doesn’t specifically answer the question how they can possibly do this when they employ four current Tory MPs.
"I have asked when they plan to start broadcasting Mr Anderson’s show, as I have huge concerns if it is before the local elections
"Surely the sensible thing to do would be to leave it after May?”
Mr Anderson has been approached for comment.