Ofcom boss: Regulator's job not to stop broadcasters employing politicians

A host of politicians currently front shows on major UK broadcasters, but the watchdog's boss said it was not their job to police who could be employed.

Ofcom boss says regulator’s job is not to stop broadcasters from employing politicians Getty Images

The job of Ofcom is not to tell broadcasters who to employ, including politicians, the media regulator’s chairman has said.

A host of politicians including former cabinet minister Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg and current Conservative deputy chairman Lee Anderson host current affairs programmes on GB News.

Ofcom chief Baron Michael Grade was asked on BBC One’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg show about GB News having four Conservative politicians on the channel and former prime minister Boris Johnson joining the ranks.

Lord Grade said rules around impartiality, fairness, accuracy are the same for GB News as for other broadcasters including the BBC.

Former pensions minister Esther McVey and backbencher Philip Davies are also presenters on GB News and former culture secretary Nadine Dorries began hosting a programme on TalkTV before she quit as an MP.

Labour’s shadow foreign secretary David Lammy also hosts a show on LBC.

Asked if he worries about increased polarisation, Lord Grade said: “I have worries about freedom of speech and freedom of expression on the airwaves, that’s what concerns Ofcom.”

He defended rules which he said had “stood us (Ofcom) in very good stead”.

Lord Grade added: “They (the rules) have increased the range of choice in news outlets and current affairs.

“It calls itself GB News but it’s more of a current affairs (channel)… there are political chat shows that go on BBC News, which is a kind of new format.

“We want to see a plurality of choice and freedom of expression on the airwaves.

“We don’t want to be in the business of telling broadcasters, licensees, who they can employ, who they can’t employ.

“There are rules about elections and politicians at election time, there are very strong, clear rules, but that’s not our job.

“Our job is to ensure… within the rules of due impartiality that there is plenty of choice and freedom of expression on the airwaves.

“That means some people will always be offended by stuff, but there’s no rule that says you can’t be offended.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code
Posted in