Ofcom and Truth
The regulator engages in licensed libel
Let me state it clearly, so there’s no doubt. In a liberal democracy, with supposed free media, and a Human Rights Act that protects the right to free speech, there should no role for an organisation like Ofcom policing content.
On March 6 Ofcom issued a judgement that Mark Steyn, on GBNews, had breached its “broadcasting rules”. Perhaps. But, by definition, those rules run counter to the right to free speech and are injurious to the reputation of a journalist doing his job.
Let’s look at the words in Ofcom’s judgement:
In this case, our investigation found that an episode of the Mark Steyn programme fell short of these standards – not because it exercised its editorial freedom to challenge mainstream narratives around Covid-19 vaccination – but because, in doing so, it presented a materially misleading interpretation of official data without sufficient challenge or counterweight, risking harm to viewers.
This “misleading” word appears frequently. The BBC, for example, an organisation that has adhered, by default, to Ofcom’s broadcasting standards, has created a unit of faux-journalists tasked with policing content on other platforms (like Twitter) - seeking out to expose what they describe as “misinformation”.
It’s clear that what Ofcom describes as misleading information is opinion (or interpretations of official data that do not conform to Ofcom’s preferred editorial position). The fact that a government appointed body judges what is “misleading” in the context of the interpretation of “official data” in just one programme on one channel anchored by just one journalist feels very much like a witch-hunt.
The result is very clear. Ofcom is clearly policing broadcasting content for information that it deems to “risk harm to viewers”. In other words, instead of viewers being left to reach their own conclusions, Ofcom has decided to act as a censor. It has, in effect, engaged in the public libelling of a journalist because it has licence to do so by government.
I use the word libel. Because, clearly, Ofcom has a statutory interest in protecting one vested interest (the agreed editorial narrative of government) - and has issued a public statement that is potentially injurious to the reputation of a journalist doing what journalists are supposed to do.
GBNews, let’s face it, does not operate in isolation. The BBC commands a vastly greater audience by virtue of its funding, volume of content and longevity - even its channel numbers. Clearly, the BBC has operated within Ofcom’s broadcasting guidelines. In doing so, therefore, it has systematically maintained an editorial position that refuses to give any position to spokespeople who take critical positions interpreting government data and policies (in relation to Covid).
When Dr Aseem Malholtra managed to squeeze in a comment (on a regional BBC programme) about the role that Covid-19 vaccines might be having in terms of a spike in cardiac related excess deaths, it was clear that the local BBC programme team had messed-up. His card was marked - he’d clearly slipped past the ‘booker’.
When I last appeared on a BBC regional programme (in late 2020) and questioned the efficacy of PCR testing for detecting coronaviruses, I was cut off air and listeners were told that I was spreading misinformation (even though I was invited on to the programme to give my views). Again, as a businessman, and rationalist, I’d argue that being labelled a misinformation peddler on a BBC programme (simply for expressing an opinion) was damaging to my personal reputation.
The Mark Steyn situation was discussed on Neil Oliver’s show on GBNews on Saturday evening. Both his guests got close to the point I’m making here but stopped short of calling for Ofcom to be scrapped as an organisation. I’m not even calling for that. But I do believe that Ofcom should have no role in policing and censoring content or issuing censures against journalists doing their jobs in a highly competitive media market.
Viewers can easily work out for themselves what to accept or to reject. Many have given up on a mainstream media that is slave to Ofcom’s narrow definition of the acceptable parameters within which any discussion of Covid or vaccines should be conducted. Ofcom’s content panel is a group of adults with their own biases - and being paid-for by the government. Such a body should be suspended and broadcasters should be freed to engage in what they should be doing: questioning everything.Viewers will judge whether the content they provide should be trusted or not.
On the plus side, of course, the independent media has thrived over the last three years. People, or people who think, have increasingly relied on platforms (like Substack) or independent video platforms, to get the content they need - that challenges and questions.
Journalists who remained with mainstream media and were willing to abide by the new infantilising narrative, defined by Ofcom and the government, will have to live with the consequences.
Oh so Mark is censored because he didn't have an opposing view in order properly to debate yet we are not allowed to debate because we hold an opposing view?
Yes, it's clear. And it is so very, very wrong.
And more people can see it for what it is. We hope.
Spot on. And this is why I will no longer watch or listen to any media censored by Ofcom. It’s a simple blanket rule which now unfortunately excludes GB news which I enthusiastically watched for six months. But life is full and rich and well-informed outside of the mainstream.