Ofcom becomes more concerning by the day. First it rapped the BBC over the knuckles for breaching broadcasting rules because it did not challenge Lord Lawson’s Today programme not unreasonable claim that there ‘hasn’t been an increase in extreme weather’.
This, the first time Ofcom has found the BBC in breach since taking over regulation of the corporation in 2017, sees the regulatory board putting down its marker on impartiality, starting with climate change. It will not tolerate any dissent on the topic unless it is slapped down.
The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) sets out Lawson’s dangerous words here in full. This is what he said on Today last year that the BBC made the terrible error of airing and then failing sufficiently to rectify. Lawson’s crime? In brief he pointed out that while some extreme climate events had increased, others had diminished and that overall extreme weather events had not increased, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – his statement was based on their key findings.
It is an extraordinary ruling by any standard. As the GWPF puts it: ‘Without providing any evidence to justify disputing the IPCC’s conclusions, Ofcom claimed that Lawson’s statement about extreme weather was incorrect and not sufficiently challenged by the BBC presenter during the interview.
‘Ofcom, however, appears to base its ruling on information from unnamed complainants, the BBC (and possibly from other unnamed sources) without publishing that information or where it obtained it from. As a result, nobody is able to see it and judge its credibility. It did not ask Lord Lawson for any information regarding his statements.’
We can’t say we are surprised at TCW. Ofcom is a hardly disinterested party. David Keighley established this when the Ofcom Content Board, which has oversight of the BBC, was set up in 2016. He found that ten of the thirteen members of the panel had close links with the BBC. He noted that it had ‘BBC etched through it like a stick of Blackpool rock’.
If this were not enough to call Ofcom’s credibility in to question, we now find that its sacked boss is receiving compensation. Bill Emmott was a man we warned about when we reported that this EU fanatic with little professional experience of broadcasting was to chair the Ofcom Content Board – which is also ultimately responsible for ensuring impartiality in news coverage across ITV, Channel 4 and Sky News.
As David Keighley pointed out Brexiteers would be fighting the battle to win hearts and minds as the EU referendum approached with their hands tied behind their backs.
Any complaint about unfair coverage of the EU debate on television – still the most crucial medium in influencing public opinion – wouldn’t have a cat in hell’s chance of succeeding.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), then headed by Karen Bradley, finally saw the light. It terminated Emmott’s contract without compensation last November after he expressed support for the EU. Among other things he’d given an interview to an Italian newspaper headlined: ‘Outside Europe the UK dies’. He’d also tweeted: ‘Prediction: Jeremy Corbyn will be Britain’s PM by 2020. Boris’s legacy’. Now we learn that this anti-Brexit individual has won a huge pay-off.
Guido Fawkes reports that the DCMS, now headed by Matt Hancock, has agreed to pay ‘a substantial sum in compensation, which Guido understands could be up to £80,000. An arch-Remainer paid off with your cash despite clearly bringing Ofcom into disrepute with his blatant anti-Brexit bias.’
It raises the question of what Ofcom is really set up to do and why the government and DCMS under Hancock continues to cosy up to it.