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Piers Morgan, the former co-host of U.K. network ITV’s Good Morning Britain breakfast show, has been cleared by media regulator Ofcom, which investigated complaints about his comments about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Morgan had said following the March interview that he didn’t “believe a word” of Markle’s commentary, including that she was deeply unhappy and had considered self-harm.
Ofcom received more than 58,000 complaints, and Morgan ended up leaving the British morning show. ITV highlighted the role its team played in avoiding a breach of broadcast standards.
“This was a finely-balanced decision,” Ofcom said on Wednesday in unveiling the results of its review. “Mr. Morgan’s comments were potentially harmful and offensive to viewers, and we recognize the strong public reaction to them. But we also took full account of freedom of expression. Under our rules, broadcasters can include controversial opinions as part of legitimate debate in the public interest, and the strong challenge to Mr. Morgan from other contributors provided important context for viewers.”
Concluded the regulator: “Nonetheless, we’ve reminded ITV to take greater care around content discussing mental health and suicide in future. ITV might consider the use of timely warnings or signposting of support services to ensure viewers are properly protected.”
Morgan celebrated the decision on Twitter, saying: “I’m delighted OFCOM has endorsed my right to disbelieve the Duke & Duchess of Sussex’s incendiary claims to Oprah Winfrey, many of which have proven to be untrue This is a resounding victory for free speech and a resounding defeat for Princess Pinocchios. Do I get my job back?”
ITV said: “We welcome the Ofcom ruling that Good Morning Britain did not breach the broadcast standards relating to harm and offense. The ruling sets out clearly that it was the balance and context the program makers provided which was key in mitigating against the potential for harm and offense, which could have been caused by Piers Morgan’s comments. It is because of the program’s editorial decisions and the opposing views which were forcefully expressed by other presenters and guests, that the program did not breach Ofcom’s rules.”
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