It is NOT GB News that needs reining in - it is Ofcom!  - Ben Habib

It is NOT GB News that needs reining in - it is Ofcom!  - Ben Habib

The People's Forum audience reacts after hearing from Rishi Sunak

GB News
Ben Habib

By Ben Habib

Published: 24/05/2024

- 06:36

Ofcom has threatened to sanction GB News for breaching broadcasting rules

GB News is much needed. It gives voice to views eschewed by mainstream media. Ofcom should nurture its emergence, not be stamping on it.

As the election unfolds, the diverse views only available to be heard on GB News will become increasingly important.

The media favours the Conservative and Labour parties. It talks about them all the time. New parties such as my own, Reform UK, are crowded out by the two legacy parties. Our existence is not welcomed by them or the main channels. Whatever they might say about being balanced, they are not.

The BBC revealed itself when it described Reform UK as “Extreme Far Right”. Why? Because we believe in borders and promoting British interests.

Ofcom officesOfcom has threatened to sanction GB NewsPA

By giving us, and others like us, a voice, GB News is enriching our democracy.

On the other hand, Ofcom’s existence and attacks on GB News hollow out our democracy.

Even though Blair won a landslide victory in 1997, he held the electorate in contempt. No sooner had he been elected, he set about stripping power away from the people.

He did so in multiple ways. Removing the Bank of England from political scrutiny. Empowering the EU at the cost of the United Kingdom. Devolving authority away from Westminster to a whole host of new bodies across the country, including the awful Holyrood. And the creation of hundreds of quangos, so called “independent bodies”.

All of this was done ostensibly to remove political meddling from the “good governance” of the UK. The correct way to describe it was the removal of democratic scrutiny and control. Our Parliament in Westminster represents us, the people. Every step he took reduced Parliament’s influence. Handing power over instead to unaccountable unelected officials.

Ofcom is but one body he created for that effect. It was born out of the merger of a number of more technical regulators with specific and limited roles in television, radio and telecoms. In bringing these together and granting Ofcom much greater scope, it became a super-regulator. And as part of the merger, it was also given the job of “protecting the public from harmful or offensive material”.

Who the devil can judge what is harmful or offensive? Certainly not a bunch of grey suits sitting in Ofcom’s ivory tower. And what about freedom of speech and diversity of thought? Like so many things Blair did, Ofcom shut down debate and became its own judge and jury.

Its malign influence was felt strongly, for example, during the pandemic, when it all but shut down public dissension against lockdowns and the vaccines.

Ofcom goes about its business in all material respects unchecked. It theoretically answers to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and can be hauled up to answer to the eponymous Parliamentary committee. But this is not routine. It goes about its daily business unchecked. Only if there were to be a massive public outcry on a particular issue might it face some sort of challenge. But it controls the airwaves, so such an outcry is not easy to make. The situation is Kafkaesque.

Ben HabibBen Habib appearing on GB News GB NEWS

Before he was elected, Cameron promised to abolish Ofcom. Once in office, he did what the Tory party has done ever since, act as the heirs to Blair. Ofcom was not abolished but had its powers extended. First by taking over regulation of the postal services and then certain aspects of digital communication. The latest on its mission creep is that it will be given scope to monitor the Internet for harmful or offensive material.

Get the picture? Ofcom is not the solution, it is significantly the problem.

Of course Ofcom stands against GB News. The insurgent channel is challenging the government and settled narratives on far ranging subjects from climate change/ net zero, to vaccines, multi-culturalism, immigration, central bank digital currencies and so on.

All thorny issues which the vast bulk of other media channels are not prepared to even discuss, let alone challenge. Certainly Sky and BBC haven’t the inclination or courage to do so.

If Ofcom were doing its job, it would be encouraging GB News to continue with its brave agenda. It would recognise the need for another voice to balance the unquestioning mainstream media. But it will not.

Ofcom is part of the unaccountable bureaucracy that is increasingly running the country and shutting down opposition.

It is not GB News that needs reining in; it is Ofcom.

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