Ofcom warns ITV over Piers Morgan's 'combative' presenting style as channel escapes penalty

Susanna Reid has returned to 'Good Morning Britain' after self-isolating for 14 days. (ITV)
ITV argues the 'combative dynamic' between Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid allows it to take a 'robust approach to discussing topical stories'. (ITV)

Piers Morgan’s “combative” presenting style on Good Morning Britain is risky, ITV has been warned.

Broadcasting regulator Ofcom has decided not to take action over Morgan mimicking a Chinese voiceover while discussing the Queen’s grandson Peter Phillips’ appearance in an advert for Jersey Fresh Milk, on 21 January.

Ofcom launched a preliminary investigation after receiving over 1,600 complaints from viewers who considered the behaviour was offensive and racist.

The regulator – which has the power to punish those who breach regulations – has decided not to pursue the complaints.

But it warned ITV: “There are compliance risks in relying on a ‘combative dynamic’ between presenters as a way to provide challenge and context for the broadcast of content which may cause offence.”

Read more: ITV 'regrets' Piers Morgan's mimicking of Chinese language

ITV had argued that Good Morning Britain has a “robust approach to discussing topical stories” based on its “combative dynamic” between hosts Morgan and Susanna Reid.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 23: Susanna Reid and Piers Morgan seen at Westminster Bridge a day after the terror attack on March 23, 2017 in London, England.  Central London was plunged into chaos as a driver ran down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before entering the grounds of the Houses of Parliament and stabbing a policeman to death.  PHOTOGRAPH BY Matthew Chattle / Barcroft Images  London-T:+44 207 033 1031 E:hello@barcroftmedia.com - New York-T:+1 212 796 2458 E:hello@barcroftusa.com - New Delhi-T:+91 11 4053 2429 E:hello@barcroftindia.com www.barcroftimages.com (Photo credit should read Matthew Chattle/Barcroft Media via Getty Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Susanna Reid is expected to balance the views of Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain. (Getty Images)

The broadcaster admitted Morgan’s imitation of a Chinese accent was “clumsy” and that his use of the words “ching chang” had potential to cause offence.

But Ofcom conceded that Reid made several immediate attempts to challenge Morgan’s imitation of the Chinese language, including telling him: “Taking the mickey out of foreign languages is rather 1970… you can’t... Piers do you not realise the kind of woke times we’re living in?”

The 55-year-old TV presenter denied on Twitter that his actions were racist and ITV said in a statement it “regretted” any offence he may have caused.

Read more: Chinese Labour MP accuses Piers Morgan of making racism 'permissible'

In a statement, released on 3 March, more than a month after the broadcast, ITV said: “These comments were intended to mock a member of the Royal Family and were not intended to mock or denigrate Chinese people, their language or accent.

“ITV regrets any offence Piers' comments may unintentionally have caused.”