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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s ‘People’s Forum’ Program Attracts Impartiality Investigation Into GB News by U.K. Media Regulator

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U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak‘s participation on GB News‘ “People’s Forum” last week is the subject of an impartiality investigation by the country’s media regulator Ofcom.

In the show, which aired on GB News on Feb. 12 and described by GB News as a “grilling,” Sunak answered the questions of pre-selected studio audience members on a variety of subjects. Sunak is a member of the Conservative party. Immediately after the program, the views of James Daly, the deputy chair of the Conservative party, were sought by the anchor.

Ofcom has launched an investigation into “People’s Forum: The Prime Minister” under their due impartiality rules after receiving some 500 complaints.

“We are investigating under Rules 5.11 and 5.12 of the Broadcasting Code which provide additional due impartiality requirements for programs dealing with matters of major political controversy and major matters relating to current public policy. Specifically, Rules 5.11 and 5.12 require that an appropriately wide range of significant views must be included and given due weight in such programs, or in clearly linked and timely programs,” Ofcom said in a statement.

This is the latest of several Ofcom investigations into GB News, which began last year. The regulator’s position is this: “Ofcom recognizes that, in line with the right to freedom of expression, broadcasters are free to decide the editorial approach of their programs. We also consider it essential for current affairs programs to provide opinionated, challenging debate, and to be able to discuss and analyse topical matters, and take a position on those issues. But in doing so, broadcasters must observe the rules set out in the Broadcasting Code. The Code is clear that when programs are dealing with matters of major political controversy and current public policy – including immigration and asylum policy – heightened impartiality requirements apply. Specifically, rules 5.11 and 5.12 require that an appropriately wide range of significant views must be included and given due weight in such programs, or in clearly linked and timely programs.”

The investigations come in an election year for the country. GB News styles itself as “Britain’s Election Channel.”

Days after the “People’s Forum: The Prime Minister” program, the Conservatives lost two by-elections to the opposition Labour party.