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GB News “Broke Offence Rules”, Ofcom Finds

The broadcasting regulator Ofcom has found comments made on GB News’ Dan Wootton Tonight by former GB News host Lawrence Fox were “degrading and demeaning” to “women generally ... .and unambiguously misogynistic”.


In a statement from the broadcaster, they found that “GB News broke broadcasting rules designed to protect viewers from offensive content” concerning comments made about female political journalist Ava Evans.

Ofcom summarised the verdict with a damning conclusion by saying, “In light of the circumstances of this case, [they] have significant concerns about GB News’ editorial control of its live output’.


The investigation was conducted after 8,867 complaints were made to the regulatory body after Lawrence Fox’s appearance at a shower hosted by former Sun journalist Dan Wootton.


Ofcom said it found that Mr Fox’s comments “Constituted a highly personal attack on Ms Evans and were potentially highly offensive to viewers.”


The ruling went on to say “They [Lawrence Fox and Dan Wootton] reduced her contribution to a broadcast discussion on mental health – in her professional capacity as a political journalist – to a judgement on whether she or women like her who publicly expressed their political opinions, were sexually desirable to men”.


It was also stated that the reaction by Dan Wootton and the “limited challenge in response” and that he encouraged it by “contributing to the narrative in which a woman’s value was judged by her physical appearance.


The comments made by the former actor and right-wing commentator were deemed by viewers to be sexist, misogynistic, and offensive, culminating in it becoming the most complained about broadcast of 2023, according to the BBC.


In the episode of Dan Wootton Tonight that aired on Sunday, September 26th, 2023, Fox criticised Ms Evans and her views on BBC Politics Live about the hypothetical creation of a “minister for men” concerning the ongoing national mental health crisis.


Fox went on to say the PoliticsJOE correspondent “has been fed, spoon-fed oppression day after day after day…” and, “we don’t need these sort of feminist 4.0…they’re pathetic and embarrassing,” retorting with “Who would want to shag that?”


Throughout the exchange, Wootton continued to smile and rarely challenged the comments being made.


Shortly after the programme aired, Fox took to X, formerly Twitter, to respond to the criticism over the comments by saying, “I’m not overly bothered about this anymore. I could have expressed myself better; that’s life, and I’ve said my bit”.


He also claimed that the conversation that took place on air was “discussed and agreed with the production team beforehand, ”involving “laughing and joking” after GB News suspended both Fox and Wootton and called the insults “totally unacceptable”.


GB News said it would conduct a full investigation shortly after the incident occurred.


Evans responded to the comments made during the broadcast on X by saying she felt “physically sick”.


The Ofcom ruling is the latest upset for the right-wing broadcaster that was revealed to have paid more than £660,262 to Tory MPs since its founding in June 2021 compared to £1,100 spent on Labour MPs in the same period. The analysis was based on figures collected by The Guardian from the parliamentary register of interest.


The Financial Times also reported in the days following the recent Ofcom ruling that GB News’ owner Paul Marshall is set to inject a further £41mn over the remainder of the year. The extra funding will be channelled through All Perspective, a group Mr Marshall owns over 33% of, to “cover operating costs at the lossmaking broadcaster.”


On Tuesday, 5th March 2024, Dan Wootton announced that he would be leaving GB News after joining the broadcaster before its launch nearly three years ago. The news was announced in a note sent to staff at GB News and through social media, according to The Guardian. Mr Wootton has confirmed that he had launched a new independent platform, likely in response to the ruling by the government communications regulator.

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