GB News presenter Mark Steyn has said he’s left the channel after being told he would be liable for any fine imposed on the station by Ofcom.
The Canadian-born broadcaster had taken a break from the channel after suffering two heart attacks at the end of December.
In a video post on his website, Steyn said he was ready to return to the station when Chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos insisted the US producers installed a defibrillator in the studio before he returned to the air.
Stein discusses the terms of his new contract which he says have changed the terms under which the programme is produced.
“The Mark Stein Show will ensure that the presenter and US producers adhere to editorial input provided by the company’s editorial director or such person designate what it is … and that to the extent that the presenter and/or the US producers do not incorporate Ofcom regulatory input into an addition to the programme, this shall be considered a material breach of this agreement. And the Mark Stein Company shall indemnify GB News for any and all direct loss liability costs, including reasonable legal costs, damages or expenses that it suffers as a result of any regulatory breach.
“So the whole thing is I’m supposed I’m on the hook therefore for Ofcom fines and this is the important point. I don’t have any say in our defence against an Ofcom complaint. That’s all done by GB News,” says Steyn. “So the Ofcom’s bitch, as I call the compliance officer, will be making the weedy wimpy defence to Ofcom, and then I’m the one who has to pay the £40,000 fine, or whatever it is.”
The Mark Steyn show is the subject of two investigations by the regulator centring on discussions in which the programme cast doubts about the Covid vaccine.
A spokeswoman for GB News, told Broadband TV News: “GB News takes Ofcom compliance extremely seriously. All our presenters are expected to comply fully with the Broadcast Code and there are no exceptions.
“This does not impinge on our ability to ask tough questions, express strong opinions, and debate the issues that matter to the people of Britain.”
Separately, in a memo to staff, sent on Monday, Frangopoulos said GB News was now entering a “third phase”. Frangopoulos detailed a plan in which the channel would be “pivoting sharply towards financial sustainability and profit”.
Stories would be handled by a single editorial team, rather than overlapping between individual programmes, which would avoid the duplication of guests on several shows.
Guests would generally not be paid for appearances, while regular guests would receive a flat rate. They’d also be expected to make their own way to the studios, rather than be sent a taxi.