Ofcom has decided not to impose any further sanction on ESTV Ltd after an interview with David Icke on its local television channel London Live included potentially harmful content about the coronavirus pandemic. It has already been required to broadcast a summary of Ofcom’s findings.
Our investigation found David Icke expressed views which had the potential to cause significant harm to viewers in London during the pandemic. We were 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 we acknowledge that David 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 David Icke’s unsubstantiated views without sufficient challenge or context, ESTV failed in its responsibility to ensure that viewers were adequately protected. As a result, we directed London Live to broadcast a summary of our findings on 22 April 2020 at 22:00.
Ofcom subsequently considered whether imposing any further sanction in addition to the direction would be appropriate in this case. Ofcom concluded that the direction it had already imposed on ESTV to broadcast a statement of its findings was sufficient in remedying potentially significant harm to viewers and that any further sanction would not be appropriate in this case. Ofcom’s decision not to impose any further sanction on ESTV was published on 8 June 2020.