I was reading this article on the Culture Secretary calling for Ofcom to take action against the London Live TV station. Yesterday, April 8th, the station broadcast an interview with David Icke, the same conspiracy theorist who claimed that a link between 5G and the COVID-19 pandemic exists in a live broadcast on Youtube which caused Youtube to alter its policies on removing COVID-19 misinformation.

In this latest broadcast, Icke reportedly accused Israel of "using coronavirus to test its technology". The Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said:

You are absolutely right these are lunatic conspiracy theories and no sensible person would give them a moment's thought. Clearly that station is regulated by Ofcom and I would be expecting Ofcom to take appropriate action. Clearly they're independent (Ofcom), but I will be in touch with them to understand what action they are taking in respect to that.

The article also gives the example of a 'sanction' by Ofcom:

And a community radio station was sanctioned by Ofcom last month after it broadcast conspiracy theories about coronavirus.

Uckfield FM was forced to apologise after a programme featured a guest presented to listeners as a health professional, but who made claims Covid-19 was linked to the rollout of 5G.

Being forced to apologise doesn't seem like that harsh a punishment personally, and with a quick search, I couldn't see whether Ofcom has any sanction powers beyond this. What powers does Ofcom have to impose sanctions, and what form can these sanctions take?

1 Answer 1


Ofcom's powers with regard to wireless telegraphy (i.e. radio) and television broadcasts and broadcasters are provided for by the Broadcasting Acts and the Communications Act 2003.

Ofcom can issue a warning, direction or fine, suspend or restrict the broadcaster's activities, revoke the broadcaster's licence or bring criminal proceedings.

Directions may include "broadcast an apology / correction / statement".

Generally the maximum fine for commercial radio is £250,000 or 5% the broadcaster's 'qualifying revenue', whichever is the greater. There is a settlement process providing for discounts.

Revocation of the licence would make it unlawful for the broadcaster to broadcast in the UK.

Ofcom's current penalty guidelines at the time of writing can be found in this PDF and its procedures for investigating alleged breaches of content standards can be found in this PDF. They are changed from time to time - both kinds of documents can be downloaded via Ofcom's Policies and Guidelines page.

Ofcom purports to want to avoid disproportionately infringing on freedom of expression, and to discourage bad behaviour and encourage good behaviour. Hence the outcome of this case, instead of something worse.

For the case to which you refer, you can read Ofcom's reasoning in this PDF found via the bulletins section of Ofcom's website.

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