FIVE programmes on GB News  - including three fronted by Shipley MP Philip Davies and his wife Tatton MP Esther McVey -  broke impartiality rules, Ofcom has ruled.

The media regulator announced today that the shows, broadcast in May and June last year, breached two parts of the Broadcasting Code, relating to due impartiality.

These included: two episodes of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s State of the Nation, two episodes of Friday Morning with Esther and Phil, and one episode of Saturday Morning with Esther and Phil.

It came after Ofcom concluded a series of investigations and published its findings today.

The report said: “All five programmes in question contained a mix of news and current affairs content.

“We found that host politicians acted as newsreaders, news interviewers or news reporters in sequences which clearly constituted news – including reporting breaking news events – without exceptional justification.

“News was, therefore, not presented with due impartiality.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Shipley MP Philip DaviesShipley MP Philip Davies (Image: Other)

It went on: “Politicians have an inherently partial role in society and news content presented by them is likely to be viewed by audiences in light of that perceived bias.

“In our view, the use of politicians to present the news risks undermining the integrity and credibility of regulated broadcast news.”

Ofcom found that a separate episode of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s State of the Nation did not raise issues warranting an investigation under these rules.

The report said: “In the case of this live programme, Jacob Rees-Mogg was used as an eye-witness, in situ news reporter during an unforeseen security incident at Buckingham Palace.”

These are the first breaches recorded against GB News and since the investigations were opened there has only been one further programme which has raised issues warranting investigation under these rules.

The report said: “We are clear, however, that GB News is put on notice that any repeated breaches of Rules 5.1 and 5.3 may result in the imposition of a statutory sanction.”

Rule 5.1 states news must be presented with "due accuracy" and "due impartiality", while Rule 5.3 bans politicians from being newsreaders, news interviewers, or news reporters unless "exceptionally, there is editorial justification".

Ofcom states in its code: "In that case, the political allegiance of that person must be made clear to the audience."

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Philip Davies and Esther McVey in 2019Philip Davies and Esther McVey in 2019 (Image: PA)

The report said: "In line with the right to freedom of expression, broadcasters have editorial freedom to offer audiences a wide range of programme formats, including using politicians to present current affairs or other non-news programmes.

"Politicians may also appear in broadcast news content as an interviewee or any other type of guest.

"Individual programmes can also feature a mix of news and non-news content and move between the two genres.

"If, however, a licensee chooses to use a politician as a presenter in a programme containing both news and current affairs content, it must take steps to ensure they do not act as a newsreader, news interviewer or news reporter in that programme."

Ofcom outlines that "due impartiality" means a show does not have to give an equal division of time to every view, or that every argument and facet has to be represented, but that its treatment must be "adequate or appropriate to the subject and nature of the programme".

GB News said it is “deeply concerned” by Ofcom’s ruling against Tory MP presenters on their channel “acting as newsreaders” and will meet with the media watchdog to raise concerns.

The broadcaster added: “Ofcom is obliged by law to promote free speech and media plurality, and to ensure that alternative voices are heard.

“Its latest decisions, in some cases a year after the programme aired, contravene those duties.

“Extraordinarily, Ofcom has determined that a programme which it acknowledges was impartial and lacking in any expression of opinion, still somehow breaches its impartiality rules just because an imaginary viewer might think otherwise.”

GB news claimed that Ofcom has “arbitrarily changed the test” and this ruling was a “chilling development for all broadcasters, for freedom of speech, and for everyone in the United Kingdom”.

It said it “takes its obligations very seriously” and is committed to having politicians as presenters on the channel.

When approached for comment, Mr Davies referred the T&A to the statement issued by GB News.

Ms McVey and Mr Davies are no longer part of the GB News line-up, and last hosted programmes on the channel last year.