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Commented: China would be proud...

Ofcom decides on overt political censorship of the words of Rishi Sunak being questioned on GB News


Link Here28th May 2024
Full story: Ofcom vs Free Speech...Ofcom's TV censorship extended to criticism of woke poliical ideas
Ofcom wrote:

People's Forum: The Prime Minister
GB News, 12 February 2024, 20:00

Ofcom received 547 complaints about this live, hour-long current affairs programme which featured the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, in a question-and-answer session with a studio audience about the Government's policies and performance, in the context of the forthcoming UK General Election.

We considered that this constituted a matter of major political controversy and a major matter relating to current public policy. When covering major matters, all Ofcom licensees must comply with the heightened special impartiality requirements in the Code. These rules require broadcasters to include and give due weight to an appropriately wide range of significant views within a programme or in clearly linked and timely programmes.

Ofcom had no issue with this programme's format in principle. Broadcasters have freedom to decide the editorial approach of their programmes as long as they comply with the Code. We took into account factors such as: the audience's questions to the Prime Minister; his responses; the Presenter's contribution; and whether due impartiality was preserved through clearly linked and timely programmes. In this case:

  • While some of the audience's questions provided some challenge to, and criticism of, the Government's policies and performance, audience members were not able to challenge the Prime Minister's responses and the Presenter did not do this to any meaningful extent.

  • The Prime Minister was able to set out some future policies that his Government planned to implement, if re-elected in the forthcoming UK General Election. Neither the audience or the Presenter challenged or otherwise referred to significant alternative views on these.

  • The Prime Minister criticised aspects of the Labour Party's policies and performance. While politicians are of course able to do this in programmes, licensees must ensure that due impartiality is preserved. Neither the Labour Party's views or positions on those issues, or any other significant views on those issues were included in the programme or given due weight.

  • The Licensee did not, and was not able to, include a reference in the programme to an agreed future programme in which an appropriately wide range of significant views on the major matter would be presented and given due weight.

We found that an appropriately wide range of significant viewpoints was not presented and given due weight in this case. As a result, Rishi Sunak had a mostly uncontested platform to promote the policies and performance of his Government in a period preceding a UK General Election.

GB News failed to preserve due impartiality, in breach of Rules 5.11 and 5.12 of the Code. Our decision is that this breach was serious and repeated.

We will therefore consider this breach for the imposition of a statutory sanction

 

Update: GB News to challege Ofcom's censorship in the courts

21st May 2024. See article from pressgazette.co.uk

A GB News spokesperson responded to the Ofcom censorship:

GB News has begun the formal legal process of challenging recent Ofcom decisions which go against journalists' and broadcasters' rights to make their own editorial judgements in line with the law and which also go against Ofcom's own rules.

Ofcom is obliged by law to uphold freedom of expression. Ofcom is also obliged to apply its rules fairly and lawfully. We believe that, for some time now, Ofcom has been operating in the exact opposite manner.

We cannot allow freedom of expression and media freedom to be trampled on in this way.

Freedom of the press is a civil right established by the British in the seventeenth century with the abolition of censorship and licensing of the printing press.

We refuse to stand by and allow this right to be threatened. As the People's Channel we champion this freedom; for our viewers, for our listeners, for everyone in the United Kingdom.

 

Ofsite Comment: Ofcom's contempt for GB News viewers

21st May 2024. See article from spiked-online.com by Andrew Tettenborn

How, you might ask, could a show featuring independently selected, non-aligned voters directly quizzing an embattled PM breach impartiality rules? The Ofcom ruling makes no sense, at least if you look at it from the perspective of the average, level-headed man or woman in the street. But then, the apparatchiks who run Ofcom are neither particularly level-headed nor remotely reflective of the average voter.

See article from spiked-online.com

 

Ofsite Comment: The real reason Ofcom has gone after GB News

27th May 2024. See article from spectator.co.uk by Toby Young

 

 

Dial-a-cop...

6000 people avail themselves of Scotland's new free service to use the police to settle scores under the Hate Crime Act


Link Here8th April 2024
Full story: Scotland stifles free speech...Hate Crime & Public Order Act
Police Scotland is grappling with potential budgetary pressures and service reductions. David Threadgold of the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) has raised concerns about the financial impact of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act. According to him, the legislation has already led to an overload of calls, with over 6,000 logged since its enactment.

Threadgold's worry centers on the unforeseen costs of handling these cases, particularly the overtime payments for control room staff. He believes these expenses will reverberate throughout the year, affecting other police services. Calum Steele, former general secretary of the SPF, echoes these concerns. As reported by The Scotsman, Steele criticized Police Scotland's preparation for the Act, calling it negligently unprepared and pointing out that the additional costs were predictable.

The legislation's impact extends beyond financial strains. The Act has resulted in a notable rise in the logging of non-crime hate incidents, incidents perceived as hateful but not necessarily criminal. This increase has prompted concerns about a potential inundation of trivial or malicious complaints, especially in the context of highly charged events like football matches. Tory MSP Murdo Fraser has already lodged a complaint over a tweet he posted being logged as a hate incident.

 

 

The Scottish Government hates free speech...

Scotland's disgraceful new hate crime law comes into force


Link Here1st April 2024
Full story: Scotland stifles free speech...Hate Crime & Public Order Act
Scotland's disgraceful new hate crime law has come into force that will undoubtedly restrict free speech and give power to those wih a scores to settle regardless of the merits of their claims.

The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021 creates a new crime of stirring up hatred relating to age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or being intersex. The maximum penalty is a prison sentence of seven years. A person commits an offence if they communicate material, or behave in a manner, that a reasonable person would consider to be threatening or abusive, with the intention of stirring up hatred based on the protected characteristics.

The bar for this offence is lower than for the other protected characteristics, as it also includes insulting behaviour, and as the prosecution need only prove that stirring up hatred was likely rather than intended.

As well as the offence of stirring up hatred, the Hate Crime Act also consolidates the existing law on crimes which are aggravated by prejudice. These are where an offender demonstrates malice or ill-will towards their victim based on a protected characteristic, which can be taken into account by a sheriff or judge with a longer sentence or a higher fine than would otherwise have been the case. This is the first time that age has been included in the list of protected characteristics for aggravated offences, a move welcomed by some campaign groups.

Adam Tomkins, professor of public law at Glasgow University, and a former Conservative MSP, voted against the bill because it could see someone convicted of stirring up hatred for a comment they make in private in their own home, not just in public, and I just don't think that's where the criminal law belongs.

Susan Smith of For Women Scotland fears those who are investigated under the new law will have their lives upended.  She told BBC News:

The tests are quite woolly and we don't know how people are going to interpret this. We do anticipate that there will be a lot of malicious complaints, a lot of rather trivial complaints and potentially people who are investigated will see their lives upended. I imagine there will be many complaints, for example, made against JK Rowling.

Ch Supt Rob Hay of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents (ASPS), which represents senior officers, said there was the potential for a huge uplift in complaints about social media posts. And as is so often the case, the police have sided with complainers and have pledged to investigate every hate crime complaint it receives.

BBC News understands that these will be assessed by a dedicated team within Police Scotland including a number of hate crime advisers to assist officers in determining what, if any, action to take.

 

 

Ofcom political censors...

Ofcom twists its rules to censor right leaning comment programmes on GB News


Link Here19th March 2024

Ofcom has tried to explain how it twists its rules to try and claim that politicians commenting on news are somehow 'newsreaders'. Ofcom writes:

This document sets out Ofcom's Decisions on five cases involving politicians acting as newsreaders, news interviewers or news reporters on television.

Our Broadcasting Code requires that broadcast news, in whatever form, must be presented with due impartiality, and that a politician cannot be a newsreader, news interviewer or news reporter unless, exceptionally, there is editorial justification.

Ofcom recognises that, in accordance with the right to freedom of expression, broadcasters have editorial freedom and can offer audiences a wide range of programme formats, including using politicians as presenters. Politicians can present current affairs programmes and they may appear in broadcast news content as an interviewee or any other type of guest, provided they are not used as a newsreader, interviewer or reporter (unless there is exceptional editorial justification), and the programme otherwise complies with the Code.

Ofcom considered that five programmes raised issues warranting investigation under our due impartiality rules. These were two editions of Jacob Rees-Mogg's State of the Nation and Friday Morning with Esther and Phil, and one edition of Saturday Morning with Esther and Phil, broadcast on GB News in May and June 2023.

Ofcom found that these five programmes breached the Code for the reasons set out in full in each corresponding Decision. Politicians acted as a newsreader, news interviewer or news reporter in sequences which constituted news for the purposes of Section Five of the Code, without exceptional justification, and news was therefore not presented with due impartiality.

Ofcom considered that the programmes in question were both news and current affairs programmes. Programmes can feature a mix of news and non-news content and move between the two. However, if a licensee chooses to use a politician as a presenter, it must take steps to ensure they do not act as a newsreader, news interviewer or news reporter.

We are also publishing our reasons for deciding that a sixth programme, a separate edition of Jacob Rees-Mogg's State of the Nation, did not raise issues warranting investigation under these rules, in order to provide broadcasters with an example of what constitutes exceptional editorial justification as allowed by Rule 5.3.

The rationale for the restriction on politicians acting as newsreaders, news interviewers or news reporters is clear 203 politicians represent a political party or position and are therefore inherently partial on topical issues. Ofcom's Decisions also recognise the special status of broadcast news, which is afforded additional statutory protections because of its fundamental importance in a democratic society.

GB News has not previously breached Rules 5.1 or 5.3. These five programmes were broadcast in May and June 2023 and we have only had reason to open one further investigation into GB News' programming under these rules since we opened these investigations1. GB News is on notice that any repeated breaches of Rules 5.1 and 5.3 may result in the imposition of a statutory sanction.

 

Offsite Comment: Ofcom's patrician war on GB News

See article from spiked-online.com by Andrew Tettenborn

The Ofcom ruling is perplexing, not least as the shows in question actually tried very carefully to separate their news and current-affairs output. News bulletins were delivered by a news anchor, always deadpan, at fixed intervals and in a dedicated studio. This was then followed by free-wheeling discussions of the day's stories, led by the politician presenters.

This didn't matter, according to Ofcom. A presenter repeating the facts of the news or mentioning a breaking story was apparently enough to make him or her a newsreader. What's more, whether these politicians actually expressed biased views on air or not was deemed immaterial. As politicians, they would have been perceived as biased, and that's what counts, says Ofcom.

This ruling will have profound repercussions for broadcasting, well beyond GB News. Ofcom won't admit it, but any shows about current affairs that tend to be heavy on opinion will in practice now count as news and hence be liable to vetting for their perceived partiality.

See full article from spiked-online.com


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