UK broadcast regulator Ofcom has imposed a sanction on local television service licensee ESTV London after an interview with English conspiracy theorist, and former footballer and sports broadcaster David Icke on its local television channel London Live included potentially harmful content about the coronavirus pandemic.
Ofcom’s investigation found Icke expressed views which had the potential to cause significant harm to viewers in London during the pandemic. It was particularly concerned by his comments casting doubt on the motives behind official health advice to protect the public from the virus.
These claims went largely unchallenged during the 80-minute interview and were made without the support of any scientific or other evidence. While Ofcom acknowledges that 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.
Ofcom stresses that there is no prohibition on broadcasting views which diverge from or challenge official authorities on public health information. However, in broadcasting Icke’s unsubstantiated views without sufficient challenge or context, ESTV failed in its responsibility to ensure that viewers were adequately protected. As a result, Ofcom is directing London Live to broadcast a summary of its findings on a date and form to be decided by Ofcom.