Interview of Jeremy Hunt by Tory MPs on GB News breached rules, says Ofcom

Interview: Conservative MPs Esther McVey and Philip Davies (YouTube / GB News)
Interview: Conservative MPs Esther McVey and Philip Davies (YouTube / GB News)

An interview of Chancellor Jeremy Hunt by Tory MPs Esther McVey and Philip Davies on GB News breached impartiality rules, Ofcom has found.

The broadcast watchdog said the March 11 interview ahead of the Spring Budget on the show McVey and Davies co-host breached impartiality rules because it was “overwhelmingly reflective” of viewpoints from within the Conservative Party on the Budget.

Ofcom found that there was “no real attention” given to opposing viewpoints, such as those from rival parties, during the two-hour discussion show, Saturday Morning with Esther and Phil.

GB News had denied a breach of the rules.

The watchdog said: “Given this programme featured two sitting MP presenters from one political party interviewing the Chancellor of the same political party about a matter of major political controversy and current public policy, we consider, in these circumstances, that GB News should have taken additional steps to ensure that due impartiality was preserved.

“Our investigation therefore concluded that GB News failed to represent and give due weight to an appropriately wide range of significant views on a matter of major political controversy and current public policy within this programme, in breach of (the) rules."

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt (PA Wire)
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt (PA Wire)

Under broadcast rules, programmes dealing with controversial political topics have to ensure an “appropriately wide range” of views are represented. The regulator launched an investigation after complaints from 45 viewers.

It is the third breach of broadcasting rules recorded against GB News since it launched in June 2021.

Ofcom said it has a further six probes open into GB News’ compliance with impartiality rules, two of which also relate to shows presented by Ms McVey and Mr Davies.

Another two investigations are open into Conservative MP’s Jacob Rees-Mogg’s State of the Nation, which airs Monday to Thursday at 8pm.

Ofcom said it was carrying out research to gauge attitudes towards programmes which feature politicians as presenters.

In its submission to the regulator, the channel denied a breach of the rules, saying the topics discussed ahead of the Budget were “freely debated”, with a wide range of views aired.

It said that the programme had been “neither pro nor anti Conservative” and was not “promotional to the Conservative Party or the Government.”

It argued: “Crucially, both the presenters and the other contributors put the interview in the context of the lives of ordinary people and wider economic and social issues – the cost of living crisis, falling real wages, public sector strikes and more.”

A GB News spokesperson said it was “disappointed” by the finding, but added: “We take compliance seriously, and we believe our programme embraced this. We will reflect on Ofcom’s view.”