UK Regulator Threatens to Sanction GB News for Breaking Impartiality Rules

LONDON – Britain’s media regulator, Ofcom, has warned television channel GB News that it could face sanctions after a broadcast featuring Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in February was found to have broken impartiality rules.

GB News, a right-leaning TV channel established in 2021, has positioned itself as a disruptor in the media landscape. The channel employs several lawmakers from the governing Conservative Party and is financially supported by hedge fund millionaire Paul Marshall.

On February 12, GB News aired an hour-long live question-and-answer session with Prime Minister Sunak, which prompted over 500 complaints. Ofcom determined that the program breached impartiality rules by failing to present a sufficiently broad range of viewpoints.

Ofcom described the violation as “serious,” noting that GB News had previously breached these rules twice. The regulator will now consider imposing statutory sanctions on the channel, with a decision on the action to be taken within 60 working days. Potential penalties include fines, mandating GB News to broadcast a correction, or even suspending or revoking its licence.

In response, GB News called Ofcom’s decision “an alarming development” aimed at preventing the public from questioning politicians directly. “The regulator’s threat to punish a news organization with sanctions for enabling people to challenge their own prime minister strikes at the heart of democracy,” GB News stated on its website.

This case underscores the ongoing tension between media regulation and freedom of the press, as well as the importance of maintaining impartiality in news broadcasting.