GB NEWS has officially breached broadcasting rules for the first time since its launch, an investigation by a media watchdog has found.

During a broadcast of The Steyn Line – presented by Canadian author and broadcaster Mark Steyn – in April last year it was claimed that data from the UK Health and Security Agency showed a causal link between receiving a third dose of the coronavirus vaccine and higher rates of infection, hospitalisation and death.

At one point in the broadcast, Steyn claimed that “UK group-think media” was denying audiences an “honest discussion” about vaccines.

He said: “The third shot not only has no efficacy, it increases your chances of hospitalisation and death.

“But because the court eunuchs of the UK group-think media deny us any honest discussion or even basic dissemination of the Government numbers, most people aren’t aware of that.

“The third shot was clearly a shot too far that has damaged the immune systems of many people and made them less able to resist infection and death.”

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However, after receiving complaints about the programme, Ofcom opened an investigation into the claims made on the channel.

Now, it has found GB News to have breached its rules on factual programming due to being “potentially harmful” to audiences.

According to the ruling, Steyn’s comments on the programme amounted to a “misleading interpretation of the data”.

The ruling stated: “Mark Steyn said in the programme that UKHSA data on those people that had, and those that had not, received a third Covid-19 vaccination dose could be compared because the two groups included approximately the same numbers of people.

“However, his interpretation that there was “only one conclusion” from this comparison – that the third vaccination caused increased levels of infection, hospitalisation and death – was misleading because it did not take account of key factors such as the significant differences in age or health of the people in these two groups.

“The programme also failed to reflect that the UKHSA reports made clear that the raw data should not be used to draw conclusions about vaccine efficacy, due to the biases inherent in the vaccinated and unvaccinated populations.”

The National:

The ruling added that despite airing comments which proposed an alternative view, the inclusion of these did not mitigate the misleading information which had already been broadcast.

“Ofcom did not consider that the inclusion of these comments provided a counterweight or genuine challenge to ensure that viewers would not be misled. Overall, we concluded that this factual programme may have resulted in viewers making important decisions about their health, and it was therefore potentially harmful and materially misleading”

“Ofcom has made clear that, in line with the right to freedom of expression, broadcasters are free to transmit programmes which may be considered controversial and challenging, and to question statistics or other evidence produced by governments or other official sources. It is clearly in the public interest to scrutinise information of this nature.

“However, this editorial freedom comes with the obligation on broadcasters to ensure that programmes comply with the Code and, in particular, that factual programmes must not materially mislead the audience.”

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Ofcom states that it has received 3432 complaints about the channel since its launch, with more than 1500 of them relating to Covid-19.

However, this is the first time it has been found in breach of the regulator’s code.

Glen Tarman, head of policy at  Full Fact, said: "GB News' viewers deserve information they can trust.

"Full Fact has repeatedly contacted GB News about unsubstantiated or false claims made on their programmes without receiving a response.

"Every broadcaster should be prepared to get their facts right, back up what they say with evidence, and correct the record when they get things wrong.

"We hope GB News will correct the record in light of Ofcom's findings today."

Another investigation into a programme presented by Steyn is ongoing.

Steyn officially left the channel last month after he claimed that bosses had tried to make him personally responsible for the payment of any potential fines issued by Ofcom.

He had been off the air since December after suffering two heart attacks and also claimed that the channel had refused to allow him to return unless a defibrillator was installed in the studio.