Ofcom has clarified the regulator’s rules around politicians presenting, and appearing on, TV and radio programmes, following the news that former cabinet ministers Nadine Dorries and Jacob Rees-Mogg will front new talk shows.
Last month it was announced former culture secretary Dorries will host a Friday night talk show for TalkTV, while Tory MP for North East Somerset Rees-Mogg will front a regular programme for GB News.
Following an increase in the number of questions related to the presence of former and current politicians on TV and radio, the media watchdog acknowledged that the rules “can seem complicated” but are “incredibly important”.
Ofcom said politicians are allowed to present TV and radio shows, but there are “some exceptions”.
By means of preserving an expected level of impartiality to broadcasters’ news bulletins, the regulator’s rules say: “No politician may be used as a newsreader, interviewer or reporter in any news programmes unless, exceptionally, it is editorially justified.
“In that case, the political allegiance of that person must be made clear to the audience.”
Where non-news content is concerned, Ofcom said: “Outside of news programmes, there is no Ofcom rule that prevents a serving politician or political candidate from hosting or appearing on a TV or radio show – provided they aren’t standing in an election taking place, or about to take place.
“This means that politicians are allowed to present current affairs programmes, such as audience phone-ins, but they must make sure a range of views are reflected in their programme.”
The regulator said the rules differ during election and referendum periods, and that during such periods any political candidates “must not present any TV or radio programme”.
It added that this “includes programmes that have no discussion of politics or current affairs”.
Candidates and referendum representatives are, however, permitted to appear in, but not present, non-political programmes that were planned or scheduled prior to the election or referendum period.
Dorries, Tory MP for Mid Bedfordshire, will launch Friday Night With Nadine on February 3 on TalkTV, joining a roster that also includes Piers Morgan, Jeremy Kyle, Vanessa Feltz and Sharon Osbourne.
The first of her weekly hour-long programmes will feature an interview with former prime minister Boris Johnson.
The news of Dorries’ most recent project followed the announcement that hardline Brexiteer and Boris Johnson loyalist Rees-Mogg will launch a new GB News show, on which he will “debate the hot topics of the day” and feature guests from “across the political spectrum”.
Rees-Mogg, who was Brexit opportunities minister and served briefly as business secretary, will also take his show on tour, broadcasting in front of live audiences in towns and cities across the country.
Dorries was accused by Parliament’s anti-corruption watchdog, the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba), of breaking Government rules by not consulting the body before accepting the role.