Ofcom sanctions London Live over 5G conspiracy theory interview

UK broadcast regulator Ofcom takes swift action after local TV channel broadcast controversial claims linking the Coronavirus with 5G.

London Live, operated by ESTV, has now been sanctioned and may face further action.

Earlier this month, London Live broadcast an interview with David Icke, which - according to Ofcom - expressed views "which had the potential to cause significant harm to viewers in London during the pandemic."

In a statement Ofcom said:
We were particularly concerned by his comments casting doubt on the motives behind official health advice to protect the public from the virus.

David Icke's interview had already been removed from YouTube and Vimeo ahead of the version broadcast on London Live because of breaching the rules of each platform.

In the past few weeks, there has been a growing  number of arson attacks on mobile phone infrastructure, affecting the availablity of 2G, 3G and 4G phone and internet services. As 5G isn't yet widely available in the UK, many masts that were targeted did not even carry 5G signals. One act of arson affected mobile phone connectivity to Birmingham's new temporary Nightingale hospital.

Ofcom will now force London Live to broadcast the outcome of its findings, at a time it will determine.

The regulator is also considering to take further sanctions against the broadcaster.

Ofcom statement:

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 are directing London Live to broadcast a summary of our findings on a date and form to be decided by Ofcom.

We are also now considering whether to impose any further sanction. While the Licensee has accepted the Direction, it considers that any further sanction would be disproportionate. The Licensee has the opportunity to make representations to Ofcom’s Sanctions Panel before the Panel reaches a final decision.

Meanwhile, comments about 5G by Eamonn Holmes on ITV's This Morning were described by Ofcom as "ill judged", but escaped sanction due to the rest of the segment clearly labelling the conspiracy theories as fake news.