Press TV – specifically episodes of George Galloway’s programmes Comment and The Real Deal – were found in breach of Ofcom Rules 5.11 and 5.12 dealing with impartiality and balance.
The issue – or rather the complaints received against the station and Galloway’s programmes – were summarised thus:
Complainants considered that these four programmes (“the Programmes”), variously: failed to put both sides of the argument in relation to the situation in Gaza; constituted Iranian propaganda; and that George Galloway in particular did not conduct a balanced discussion on the issue of Gaza.
It is a requirement in legislation that Ofcom must take particular account of the need to ensure due impartiality is preserved when dealing with major matters of political controversy.
In summary, Ofcom considered that within the Programmes overall, there was not an appropriately wide range of significant views included and that the views that were included that were contrary to the opinion of the presenter, were not given due weight. As a consequence, Ofcom considered the Programmes to have breached Rules 5.11 and 5.12 of the Code.
Ofcom recognises that limits to editorial freedom exist partly to ensure compliance with Section 5 of the Code, and in particular the requirement to ensure due impartiality when dealing with matters of major political or industrial controversy or major matters relating to current public policy. However, Ofcom also recognises that there may be a number of ways that broadcasters can ensure that an appropriately wide range of significant views are included in a programme and given due weight.
In carrying out its duties, Ofcom recognises that there is not, and should not be, any prohibition on broadcasters discussing controversial subjects2. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict understandably raises extremely strong views and emotions from all sides. It is right that broadcasters are able to reflect such opinions within its programmes. There must be a place for such programming which gives air to highly opinionated and vocal reaction on issues of such importance. However, in order to comply with the Code, broadcasters must ensure that, when discussing matters of major political or industrial controversy or a major matter relating to current public policy, a real range of significant views are included in a programme. Further, in such cases, when presenting any significant alternative view, it must be given due weight and consideration.
View the full report (PDF, PP 5 – 14) here.