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December 28, 2018updated 07 Nov 2023 5:49am

Sky News third most complained about television show of 2018 due to alleged ‘bias’ against Tommy Robinson

By James Walker

Sky News was the third most complained about programme of 2018 due to allegations of bias in an interview with Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, aka Tommy Robinson.

Annual complaint figures from broadcast regulator Ofcom show that Sky News received 4,251 complaints over the year, with 3,462 complaints alleging bias against Robinson and defamation of his character in the programme’s editing of an interview with the English Defence League founder.

Press Gazette understands that the bulk of those complaints about the interview, which took place in September, came from supporters of Tommy Robinson.

Robinson had also recorded his interview with Sky News and broadcast the full tape on his Youtube channel.

A further 592 complaints about Sky News were levelled against Kay Burley’s comparison of burned Falklands War veteran Simon Weston’s injuries to a woman wearing a burqa.

During an interview with Andrew Bridgen MP, Burley asked the Conservative politician if being unable to read Weston’s facial expressions would offend him.

Sky News is not the only current affairs show to appear in Ofcom’s top 10 most complained about programmes this year.

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Good Morning Britain was the seventh most complained about show, receiving a total of 548 complaints.

More than 80 of those complaints alleged that Piers Morgan showed bias toward Donald Trump in an interview with Novara senior editor Ash Sarkar.

Press Gazette has contacted ITV and Sky News for responses to the figures.

Ofcom received a total of 56,000 complaints in 2018 compared to just 16,068 in 2017 – a more than threefold increase.

The 47,000 complaints amassed by programmes in the top 10 this year accounted for 85 per cent of all complaints.

Ofcom director of content standards, licensing and enforcement Tony Close said: “Viewers are as passionate about what they watch as ever, discussing programmes with their friends and family, and with other people on social media.

“They complain to us when they think programmes have fallen below the standards they expect, and we carefully assess each and every complaint we receive.

“This year, we’ve taken action on many occasions where programmes have fallen short of the standards required by our rules.”

Celebrity Big Brother and Loose Women topped the Ofcom complaints chart, with more than 27,000 complaints being levelled at CBB alone.

Here is a full table of Ofcom’s 10 most complained about programmes of 2018:

Show Ofcom complaints (2018)
Celebrity Big Brother 27,602
Loose Women 8,002
Sky News 4,251
Love Island 4,192
Coronation Street 1,098
Emmerdale 759
Good Morning Britain 548
This Morning 402
I’m a Celebrity 335
The X Factor 286

Picture: Reuters/Peter Nicholls

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