The radio channel, TalkRADIO, has been fined £75,000 for breaching rules on impartiality in three programmes hosted by the controversial former MP, George Galloway. Two of the programmes concerned antisemitism in the Labour Party.
In assessing the breaches, Ofcom concluded that the programmes, one of which covered the poisoning of Yulia and Sergei Skripal, had “failed to preserve due impartiality on a matter of major political controversy or a major matter of current public policy”. Ofcom observed that “alternative viewpoints were only reflected to an extremely limited extent over the course of these programmes, each of which was three hours in duration”.
Ofcom further noted that “it was also the case that the limited viewpoints featured in the programmes which did not align with Mr Galloway’s were treated in a very different way to those that did.” For example, in the programmes on antisemitism, Mr Galloway apparently described one listener who expressed a dissenting view as “gutless coward”, “ignorant moron”, and “cowardly”. “These statements had the effect of dismissing and denigrating listeners who held views that did not reflect Mr Galloway’s,” Ofcom explained, “and constituted a clear difference in the treatment of such views.”
Ofcom found the breaches to be both serious and repeated, because the same set of rules were breached on three separate occasions over five months, and in two of the occasions in respect of the same topic.
The fine comes after Mr Galloway again courted controversy by falsely suggesting that “illegal Israeli settlers” had murdered an Arab child who was in fact tragically drowned by rainwater. At least one other broadcaster echoed the accusation.