As the landscape of broadcast journalism evolves, Ofcom, GB News, and TalkTV have become key players in the UK media industry. This piece explores how the unprecedented involvement of politicians as news presenters is challenging the way we traditionally perceive broadcasting.
GB News and TalkTV, innovative in their approach, are fuelling a shift in UK television news. This shift, moving from pure information dissemination to a blend of opinion and commentary, presents a challenge for Ofcom, the UK’s primary broadcast regulator. This new breed of TV news channels is prompting an overdue review of the broadcast code, first established in an era dominated by BBC and ITV.
In the UK, serving politicians have traditionally been barred from news presenting roles on TV and radio unless under exceptional circumstances. However, politicians hosting current affairs discussions is permitted. The rising challenge is distinguishing between the two. Any changes to these rules are politically sensitive, given that the biggest beneficiaries of this new media trend have been Conservative MPs.
A number of complaints led Ofcom to launch investigations into GB News and TalkTV. One complaint was regarding former Conservative Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg’s role as a newsreader on a breaking news story. Another related to GB News allowing Tory MPs Esther McVey and Philip Davies to interview Conservative chancellor Jeremy Hunt. Ofcom is investigating whether these instances breached impartiality rules and required a broader range of views in programming.
Ofcom’s involvement and the rise of GB News and TalkTV highlight the changing norms in broadcast journalism. This shift has seen serving Tory MPs, including Lee Anderson and Nadine Dorries, securing high-profile TV presenting roles. Such appointments are raising questions about political influence and impartiality in news presentation.
In response, Ofcom is evaluating whether the ban on MPs presenting news programmes is still relevant. These rules, first introduced in 2005, may need updating if audience attitudes have evolved with the changing landscape of broadcast media.
Impartial and balanced news reporting is crucial in our politically polarised world. However, we also need to embrace the evolution of broadcast media. The outcomes of Ofcom’s investigations and the results of their research will hopefully guide the way forward.
The current challenges in broadcast media also bring opportunities to redefine journalistic norms. These challenges may pave the way to a more inclusive, balanced, and insightful future for news presentation.