Does a 2021 Ofcom ruling have any impact on the any of these points?


In 2019 the IEA complained about a radio presenter inaccurately attacking the IEA, without the IEA being given a right to reply. The presenter claimed only think tanks who revealed all their funding would be permitted a right to reply. Such a rule has no basis in the law or rules governing broadcasting. The presenter further could not say what transparency criteria would be accepted as meeting this test. It was a good example of the ‘Who Funds You’ campaign being both incoherent and used principally as an excuse to ‘no platform’ views with which the presenter disagreed.

An internal complaint to the presenter’s broadcaster was set in motion and the presenter was then compelled to issue a partial retraction a few months later. This amounted to a limited right to reply, but insufficient in the view of the IEA. The matter was then escalated to Ofcom to test the legitimacy of the action taken under the Broadcasters Code. After a two and half year wait the complaint was rejected. The partial retraction was considered by Ofcom to have been an adequate redress.

The ruling has since been used, predictably and dishonestly, by activist groups to claim it confers legitimacy on the content of the original broadcast. It doesn’t; that broadcast was corrected by the broadcaster. Meanwhile, an upside of the ruling is that it gives regulated broadcasters of ‘authored’ (i.e., biased) content greater latitude to discuss topical issues, which is a boon to free speech.

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