TalkRadio has been fined £75,000 by media regulator Ofcom for “serious” breaches of its code over ex-presenter George Galloway’s radio show, including his dismissals of alleged antisemitism in Labour.
The watchdog said TalkRadio had “failing to comply with our broadcasting rules” and did not “take appropriate steps to mitigate the risk” that arose from the former Labour and Respect MP’s “strongly held views on this particular issue”.
During the broadcast on July 27, 2018, Mr Galloway made an extended attack on the allegations of antisemitism against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, claiming that they were “literally summoning up the demons of Nazism against Britain’s finest anti-fascist”.
He added that the media were creating “a giant Goebbellian lie that Jeremy Corbyn not only hates Jews but that the existential future, the existence of Jewish life in Britain is threatened”.
Mr Galloway hosted Graham Bash of the left-wing monthly magazine Labour Briefing, who described "fake allegations” of antisemitism in Labour and said they were orchestrated by the “pro-Israel lobby” in an attempt to “silence criticism” of Israel.
Mr Galloway read out supportive text messages from listeners agreeing with his views but mocked the spelling of the single message from a non-supportive listener that he read out during the three-hour broadcast, whom he called a “gutless coward” and an “ignorant moron”.
Ofcom ruled that TalkRadio had failed to preserve impartiality on a “matter of major political controversy” and that it had failed to ensure “a wide range of alternative viewpoints” were included.
TalkRadio later sacked Mr Galloway for posting a tweet it labelled “blatant antisemitism”, which celebrated Liverpool's defeat of Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League final.
Regarding the Ofcom judgment, the station accepted it “ought to have known that Mr Galloway had strong views on the issue of allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party”.
The station, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News UK and is the sister station to TalkSport, described Ofcom’s sanction as “excessive”, but accepted that “some form of penalty” was “reasonable.”
Ofcom also reprimanded TalkRadio for two other breaches by Mr Galloway that related to discussions over the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in March 2018.
TalkRadio will also be required to broadcast a statement of Ofcom’s findings.