'Has Ofcom lost the plot?' Ex-Lib Dem chair Mark Oaten blasts 'ludicrous ruling'

Sunak People's Forum
Rishi Sunak attending the People's Forum
GB News
Mark Oaten

By Mark Oaten

Published: 21/05/2024

- 15:48

Updated: 31/05/2024

- 14:02

Ofcom ruled GB News broke impartiality rules with The People's Forum and threatened the channel with a sanction

The latest so called ruling against GB News feels more political than a genuine call for impartiality.

I guess I am an odd choice to jump to the defence of GB news.

As a Liberal this news channel is not my natural home. At times the presenters opinions can be uncomfortable viewing for someone like me.


GB News People's ForumThe audience of the People's Forum: The Prime MinisterGB News

But that’s the point.

If you believe in media freedom then you have to be prepared to support the right of the Jacob's and Nigel's to have a platform.

If all the broadcasters were sending out the same message it would be a dull old world. We understand our national newspapers have strong opinions- why can’t our broadcasters?

GB News has set out to disrupt TV news and that’s got to be welcome.

Liberal Democrat Mark Oaten

Liberal Democrat Mark Oaten

GB News

It’s a fast moving world, I can pick and mix what I watch from a range of different podcasts knowing that they will definitely be biased towards a certain view.

I even have my own “Very Liberal podcast”. Should Ofcom ban that?

The idea that Ofcom can sanitise broadcasting is outdated. Multimedia options mean choice and they should find ways to support not hinder that.

The latest Ofcom rule against GB News is the most ludicrous yet. The Prime Ministers hour special a month ago broke viewing records for the channel.

The questions were tough from both the journalist and audience. This was not a soft cuddle up - something ITV did earlier in the year.

The Labour leader was offered a similar slot and I am sure in time all parties will get a go.

I honestly can’t see how this broke any rules. You have to wonder if anyone from Ofcom actually watched it.

During an election period rules on broadcasting are rightly much tougher to ensure balance. But outside that period, we don’t need every programme to tick every political colour.

Ofcom need to get back to basics. Protect against real misconduct and misinformation. Focus on what they were set up to do. More attacks on GB news will undermine their authority and bring into question their motives.

They need to respect media freedoms and the ability of viewers and voters to decide what they watch.

The Off button is more powerful than Ofcom.

If people don’t like it then GB news will fail. But at this rate I suspect they will be around a lot longer than Ofcom.


Mark Oaten is the Former Lib Dem Party Chairman & Home Affairs Spokesman

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