Ofcom has opened yet another investigation into GB News following the Laurence Fox rant on Dan Wootton Tonight, which the regulator revealed has received 7,300 complaints.
The regulator said it is investigating under Rule 2.3 of the Broadcasting Code, which states that in applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context.
Ofcom CEO Melanie Dawes said there had been “speculation and commentary” in recent days over Ofcom’s role in the broadcasting landscape since the Tuesday broadcast but the rules “remain unchanged.”
“They are designed to protect audiences from offensive and harmful material, and to uphold the integrity of broadcast news and current affairs programming, while always ensuring that freedom of expression is front and centre in every decision we take,” she said. “This is highly valued by audiences and central to our democracy.”
Having faced pressure since Tuesday, Ofcom has reacted much quicker than usual in opening the investigation in less than 48 hours.
Following the broadcast, GB News suspended Wootton and chided Fox after the latter, who also hosts a show on the channel, made highly misogynistic comments about female political journalist Ava Evans. He claimed no “self-respecting man” would “climb into bed” with her, while Wootton could be heard laughing before he later apologized on social media.
Wootton has been suspended GB News and just had his MailOnline column terminated. Evans has said she has received multiple threats on social media.
GB News is currently being investigated for seven other Ofcom breaches and has already been rapped for three this year, while it was summoned for a meeting with the regulator several months ago following the second.
Fox’s GB News show is separately being probed, with a result expected shortly on a ruling that Fox’s show Laurence Fox, which was guest hosted by Martin Daubney, failed on “due impartiality” during a discussion about the small boats issue.
The 7,300 complaints is a big number and will likely be one of the most complained about broadcasts of the year. It would have comfortably ranked first had it been made in 2022.