Ofcom have ruled that LBC breached the body’s impartiality rules during a broadcast outside the Israeli Embassy in London last year. Back in May 2021, during protests prompted by airstrikes against Gaza, LBC’s reporter repeatedly described the Israeli Embassy as the “Jewish Embassy“. They repeated the claim nine times across three news items…
Now, following an investigation, Ofcom have slammed the broadcaster for the clear breach – particularly for conflating Israeli national identity with Jewish identity:
We considered that listeners, especially Jewish people and those concerned by this rise in antisemitism in London at the time of the report, may have found the conflation particularly offensive.
LBC attempted to dismiss the claim by insisting the reporter was working in a high-stress environment, and had simply “tripped over his words in error during the heat of the moment.” Ofcom didn’t buy it:
“We took into account the Licensee’s explanation of the circumstances, in that the reporter was “reporting live from a high-stress and tense environment”.
We recognise that broadcasting in a challenging live situation may provide some mitigation for an inaccuracy during a live report and that there is clearly a high public interest in journalists reporting live from situations such as these.
However, we did not think in the circumstances of this case that this provided sufficient mitigation for the inaccuracy, which had been originally broadcast live in the 16:06 programme, to have been repeated in two further broadcasts, as a pre-recorded news piece when those mitigating circumstances did not apply, and without correction or context being provided.”
Ofcom ruled that while the breach didn’t constitute antisemitism, LBC’s corrective measures were “insufficient to mitigate the potential offence or justify the broadcast of the potentially offensive content in this programme.” Given there was no attempt to correct the reporter, and the package was rebroadcast multiple times, it was obvious their excuse just wouldn’t cut it…
Internally, it doesn’t look like LBC are keen to impress the gravity of all this on their staff. Guido spoke to an LBC source who claimed not to have “heard a peep” about the decision, and they’d only found out about the ruling by Googling it…
Read the full ruling below: