Media regulator Ofcom have found talkSPORT’s George Galloway show in breach after he encouraged listeners to attend a demonstration against the Israeli offensive against what it perceived to be Hamas forces based on the Gaza strip.
Galloway, the Respect Party MP has made no attempt to hide his anti-Israel bias and a series of shows aired in November and throughout December last year drew fourteen complaints objecting to the MP’s stance.
These complaints included objections to Galloway’s calls for people to attend demonstrations against Israeli’s actions in London and elsewhere.
In its defence, talkSPORT argued, among other points, that the Israeli government’s actions in December 2008/January 2009 were condemned by the majority of the international community and that the situation in Gaza deteriorated to such an extent that it was regarded as a humanitarian crisis. In its view the nature of this subject had a very real bearing on the approach to due impartiality in this case.
It also pointed out the nature of the show and the network itself; both built on a passionate exchange of views that are sometimes combative, or emotive and sometimes both.
Making their decision, the media regulator recognized that the issue of Gaza was a “matter of major political controversy” and that Galloway makes no bones about his take on the situation in Gaza, even going so far as to quote the presenter: “I am not impartial on this subject, nor can I be…”
Though, Ofcom did also stipulate that on Galloway’s show on 2 January 2009 he said: “You’re welcome whatever your point of view but you’re especially welcome if you disagree with me…”
Finally concluding that, ‘there was an appropriately wide range of significant views aired on the station and on George Galloway during the period to which these complaints related. However, in encouraging listeners to attend demonstrations with details of dates, times and locations, the programme moved away from legitimate debate and started to campaign on a major matter of controversy resulting in a breach of Rule 5.11.’