Ofcom has sanctioned London Live for broadcasting an interview in which the conspiracy theorist aired “potentially harmful” views about the coronavirus pandemic.
The 80-minute interview, broadcast on 8 April, was found to contain “potentially harmful content”, the UK’s broadcasting regulator ruled on Monday.
Ofcom directed ESTV, the company which owns London Live, to broadcast a summary of the findings. The regulator is now considering further sanctions, a move ESTV said would be “disproportionate”.
Interviewed by the presenter Brian Rose, Icke made several claims about vaccines and the origins and spread of the coronavirus. He also suggested the impact of the crisis around the world could be linked to geopolitical differences between Israel and the west.
But Rose said during the programme he believed the virus had occurred “naturally” and that he supported science and the use of vaccines. A message also flashed up on screen before and after the interview, clarifying that “the views contained in this programme are those of the individuals articulating them and not necessarily those of London Live. For advice on Covid-19 please visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus”.
ESTV told the regulator it takes the Broadcasting Code “extremely seriously” and said it had removed any material from the interview which could be misconstrued as “medical advice or contrary to government guidance”.
“While we acknowledge that David Icke has a right to hold and express these views, they risked causing significant harm to viewers who may have been particularly vulnerable at the time of broadcast,” Ofcom said on Monday.
“Ofcom stresses that there is no prohibition on broadcasting views which diverge from or challenge official authorities on public health information. However, in broadcasting David Icke’s unsubstantiated views without sufficient challenge or context, ESTV failed in its responsibility to ensure that viewers were adequately protected,” it added.
A London Live spokesperson told Jewish News on Monday the TV channel “respects Ofcom’s decision in this case and apologises for any harm this may have caused.”
Icke, a former footballer and sports commentator who previously claimed the world is run by reptiles, has faced accusations of antisemitism from Jewish groups in the past.