GB News has been hit with the first Ofcom hack of the network’s ‘Don’t Kill Cash’ campaign, and more could follow.
This morning the regulator found that GB News had breached two parts of its rules during a campaign to pressure politicians to stop the UK becoming a cashless society.
Ofcom quickly launched an investigation into the GB News episode Live table The campaign reported in early July, and five other investigations into the “Don’t Kill Cash” promotion remain open.
Noting that “it is clear that broadcasters are free to discuss issues on their programs such as the use of money in society in a variety of ways”, Ofcom found that GB News breached Rules 5.4 and 5.5 of its code, which “involved expressions of the licensee’s points of view and views”. on a controversial matter of a political nature and a matter of current public policy and failed to maintain appropriate neutrality in the matter.
The campaign’s stated aim is to “call on the government to introduce legislation to protect cash’s status as legal tender and a widely accepted means of payment in the UK until at least 2050”. GB News highlights that a cashless society is putting older people at a disadvantage and that an alternative solution is needed.
Ofcom said it received complaints in the first two weeks of July when 40 programs contained references to the campaign. Several campaign program promotions were scheduled on GB News in the first week, including regular appeals for viewers to support the petition. A QR code with a signature supporting the petition has also appeared repeatedly.
Ofcom found that campaign promotion often went too far in promoting controversial issues of public policy.
In its response, GB News said that the campaign was not about political controversy or current public policy and therefore Principles 5.4 and 5.5 were not addressed, but in any event due impartiality was achieved by including arguments in favor of cashless transactions. GB News highlighted the need for Ofcom to carry out its tasks “in accordance with the right to freedom of expression set out in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights”.
Five other investigations into campaign promotion remain open, and this case is by no means the only one Ofcom is investigating. The right-wing news network has also breached Ofcom four times in other areas, particularly on issues relating to impartiality and the issue of politicians presenting issues programmes. A total of 11 investigations remain open.
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