The boss of GB News has insisted that an “interview” of Home Secretary Suella Braverman by her Conservative colleague Lee Anderson will be “duly impartial”.
Angelos Frangopoulos defended the broadcaster’s practice of getting Conservative MPs who are being paid to host shows to have discussions with their colleagues in Government.
With four serving Tory MPs on its bankroll, GB News has been coming under increasing scrutiny from Ofcom over the practice, and has once been found to have breached the rules.
The regulator is also investigating the channel over Laurence Fox’s comments about a female journalist that have widely been condemned as misogynistic.
Mr Frangopoulos insisted the MPs’ work is “absolutely permitted under the Ofcom rules”, arguing that none of them host “a news bulletin-based programme”.
“If that changes in the future then obviously we’ll look at it,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Pressed on why they decided not to get an impartial journalist to interview the minister, he said that they are “filling a gap in the landscape”.
“We’re not journalism for journalists, we’re journalism for people,” he said.
“The conversation that happened between people like Suella Braverman and Lee Anderson, they are conversations, they are not interviews in the same sense.”
Mr Anderson gets £100,000 a year for his show on top of his £86,584 MP’s salary, and he also serves as the Conservative Party’s deputy chairman.
He billed their discussion that will be aired on Lee Anderson’s Real World on Friday evening as an “exclusive scoop”, and as the “first interview on British soil since her landmark speech this week in the US”.
The under-fire GB News boss said: “We are confident that that programme will be fully compliant.
“We follow the rules very closely and it will be duly impartial on the platform that it airs.”
Ofcom chief executive Dame Melanie Dawes has said that the interview could comply with its rules as long as the “overall show … preserves due impartiality”.
Earlier this month, Ofcom found that an interview with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt carried out by married Tory MPs Esther McVey and Philip Davies broke due impartiality rules.
The regulator said it had “failed to represent and give due weight to an appropriately wide range of significant views on a matter of major political controversy”.
Mr Frangopoulos defended the interview, saying that the Tory MPs, seen as being on the right of the party, were interviewing a Chancellor he described as “centrist”.
The BBC’s veteran journalist Nick Robinson suggested that approach to impartiality could be considered “GB Newspeak”, in the vein of the euphemistic and propagandistic language characterised in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.
“I disagree,” Mr Frangopoulos said.
“What you’re looking at here is just a different way of carrying out discussions and extracting information out of a process that really has been locked up, where it has been journalists speaking along the same lines all the time and extracting the same information.”
Tory MP Caroline Nokes has criticised her colleagues who are “swanning off” to present television shows while they have got a “day job to do”.
But Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has praised Mr Anderson as doing a “fantastic job” for his constituents in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, and gave him “total support”.
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