London Live has been sanctioned by Ofcom over an interview with the conspiracy theorist David Icke.
The regulator said the 80-minute long interview included potentially harmful content about the coronavirus pandemic. There were particular concerns over comments that cast doubt on the motives behind official health advice to protect the public from the virus.
Mr Icke’s claims during the interview.went largely unchallenged.
“While we acknowledge that David Icke has a right to hold and express these views, they risked causing significant harm to viewers who may have been particularly vulnerable at the time of broadcast,” the regulator said in a statement.
Although there is no bar to the broadcast of views that challenge authorities on public health information, Ofcom said in broadcasting David Icke’s unsubstantiated views without sufficient challenge or context, London Live and its operator ESTV failed in its responsibility to ensure that viewers were adequately protected.
London Live will now be required to broadcast a summary of Ofcom’s findings and the regulator could still impose further sanction. ESTV says it accepts the findings, but says any further sanction would be disproportionate.
Separately, Ofcom has issued guidance to ITV about comments made by Eamonn Holmes on the This Morning programme about misinformation around Covid-19 and 5G technology. It says the comments by the presenter around attacks in mobile phone masts were ill-judged and risked undermining viewers’ trust in advice from public authorities and scientific evidence.
It follows a series of attacks on masts resulting from conspiracy theories linking 5G technology and the virus.