Labour’s Deputy Leader Tom Watson says it is “deeply concerning” for Boris Johnson to threaten Channel 4 with its public service broadcasting licence for replacing him with an ice sculpture when he failed to turn up to tonight’s climate debate. Tom Watson has written to Ofcom to urge the regulator to “call out this meddling”. His letter adds: “Boris Johnson has banned the Daily Mirror from its battle bus, ducked the Andrew Neil interview and now attempted to bully Channel 4.”
Tom Watson said “It is deeply concerning for Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party to threaten Channel 4 in this way. It’s simple. If the Prime Minister didn’t want to be embarrassed by being replaced with an ice sculpture, he should have turned up to the debate.
“The truth is, Boris Johnson is in hiding because his record of failure on the climate emergency is indefensible.”
Full copy of the letter:
Ofcom Chief Executive
2a Southwark Bridge Rd,
28th November 2019
I’m writing regarding a most serious matter. It has been reported tonight that Boris Johnson is threatening to review Channel 4’s broadcasting licence after they empty chaired him for tonight’s climate change debate. As you’ll know, in 2014, Ofcom renewed Channel 4’s main public service broadcasting licence until the end of 2024 so during the next parliament Ofcom will be reviewing it again.
However, as you’ll also know, decisions on granting, reviewing or revoking broadcasting licences are a matter for Ofcom. It is not for Government to seek to impose its will on an independent regulator.
It is deeply concerning that a governing party would wish to restrict the free press. I’m urging you to call out this meddling and demand that whichever political party wins the next General Election allows Ofcom to operate freely from political interference.
We need a strong free press. But the Tories are restricting journalists. This campaign, Boris Johnson has banned the Daily Mirror from its battle bus, ducked the Andrew Neil interview and now attempted to bully Channel 4.
I hope you’ll stand with me in defending our free broadcast press from this gross dictatorial act.
Labour’s Deputy Leader and Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport