Ofcom will not formally investigate GB News over comments made on Dan Wootton’s show about the effectiveness of lockdowns.
The broadcasting watchdog received 390 complaints after Wootton’s monologue at the start of his first broadcast on 13 June about what was then a rumoured delay to the easing of Covid restrictions.
The former Sun journalist called for all the rules to be lifted and said: “It’s increasingly clear now that there is a move among some public health officials and politicians to create an ultra-cautious biosecurity state, copying the likes of China.”
He also referred to medical officials as “doomsday scientists”, who he claimed had become “addicted to power” over the course of the pandemic.
Wootton also suggested that members of the public who supported lockdowns had been “terrified” into doing so, by what he branded the government’s “scare tactics”.
After assessing the complaints it received, Ofcom will not be launching a full investigation citing the “right to free expression”, adding that there was a “rigorous” debate during the programme.
A spokesperson said: “Our rules allow for rigorous debate around the response to coronavirus, which is consistent with the right to free expression.
“In our view, this programme included a range of different viewpoints, including on the merits and effectiveness of lockdown restrictions, and guests were able to challenge views they disagreed with.”
GB News, which is chaired by former BBC broadcaster Andrew Neil, has positioned itself as a rival to the news and current affairs offerings from the traditional broadcasters.
In its first week on air, the news channel faced various technical blunders, while a number of brands pulled their advertising after just a few days and there was also embarrassment after more than one of its presenters fell for one of the oldest prank calls in the book.
While GB News got off to a strong start in the ratings, beating BBC News and Sky News on its launch night, it has been reported that viewing figures have dropped considerably since.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.