BROADCAST regulator Ofcom today published a ruling on Laurence Fox’s “misogynistic” rant against a female journalist – branding his comments “degrading and demeaning”.

The media watchdog has called GB News bosses in for talks after raising “significant concerns” about the broadcaster’s control over its live output.

It said Fox’s tirade against Joe Politics journalist Ava Evans was “clearly and unambiguously misogynistic” – after the controversial campaigner and pundit made vile comments about her sexual attractiveness.

Ofcom's ruling in full

An Ofcom investigation today concluded that an episode of Dan Wootton Tonight on GB News broke broadcasting rules designed to protect viewers from offensive content.

Comments made during the programme by Laurence Fox targeting female political journalist, Ava Evans, prompted 8,867 complaints to Ofcom. Viewers expressed concerns that his remarks were sexist, misogynistic and offensive.

READ MORE: GB News launches investigation after 'totally unacceptable' Laurence Fox comments

In line with the legal right to freedom of expression, broadcasters are free to include potentially offensive material in their programmes under our rules. But, in doing so, such content must be justified and put into sufficient context to ensure audiences are protected.

We launched an investigation to determine whether the programme, which aired on 26 September 2023, complied with Rule 2.3 of the Broadcasting Code.

What we found

Our broadcasting standards experts carefully analysed the content as well as formal representations from GB News and Dan Wootton, in line with our investigation procedures.

We found that Mr Fox’s comments constituted a highly personal attack on Ms Evans and were potentially highly offensive to viewers. They reduced her contribution to a broadcast discussion on mental health - in her professional capacity as a political journalist - to a judgment on whether she, or women like her who publicly expressed their political opinions, were sexually desirable to men.

As such, we considered that Mr Fox’s comments were degrading and demeaning both to Ms Evans and women generally and were clearly and unambiguously misogynistic.

READ MORE: Ofcom rules Laurence Fox's rant against female journalist was 'misogynistic'

In our view, Mr Wootton’s reaction and limited challenge in response did not mitigate the potential for offence. Rather, they exacerbated it by contributing to the narrative in which a woman’s value was judged by her physical appearance.

Our investigation revealed that Mr Wootton’s and GB News’ account of why an apology was not read out differed. However, we did not consider it necessary to explore these differing accounts. In any event, no apology was made after the interview with Mr Fox in the remainder of the two-hour programme - nor were any other editorial techniques used to address the potential for offence. We considered this indicated that GB News’ editorial control of this live programme had been inadequate.

Our decision

In reaching our decision, we have taken careful account of broadcasters’ and audiences’ right to freedom of expression, and considered a range of relevant contextual factors.

Taking into particular account that Mr Fox’s misogynistic comments were directed at an individual, went largely unchallenged by the presenter, and the absence of any apology in the programme itself, we do not consider that the significant potential for offence was justified by the context in this case. We have therefore found the programme in breach of Rule 2.3.

In light of the circumstances of this case, we have significant concerns about GB News’ editorial control of its live output. We are requiring GB News to provide further detailed information about its compliance practices in this area for our consideration, and requesting it attends a meeting at our offices to discuss this.