ITV have issued a statement on Ofcom’s ruling:
“We welcome the Ofcom ruling that ‘Good Morning Britain’ did not breach the broadcast standards relating to harm and offence. The ruling sets out clearly that it was the balance and context the programme makers provided which was key in mitigating against the potential for harm and offence which could have been caused by Piers Morgan’s comments. It is because of the programme’s editorial decisions and the opposing views which were forcefully expressed by other presenters and guests, that the programme did not breach Ofcom’s rules.”
Although Morgan has publicly enquired whether he will be getting his “GMB” hosting job back, sources say there are no plans to reinstate the controversial presenter. However, he will continue to host ITV show “Piers Morgan’s Life Stories.”
Former “Good Morning Britain” host Piers Morgan has been cleared by British regulator Ofcom over comments he made about Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex.
Speaking the morning after Markle and husband Prince Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey aired in March, Morgan said he didn’t “believe a word” of Markle’s claims, including that she was deeply unhappy after marrying into the British royal family and had considered self-harm.
Despite receiving over 58,000 complaints and setting the wheels in motion for his eventual departure from the show (the following day he walked off set after his colleague, presenter Alex Beresford, criticized Morgan’s comments over Markle), Ofcom has, after “careful consideration,” found Morgan did not breach broadcasting rules.
“This was a finely-balanced decision,” said an Ofcom spokesperson. “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.”
“Nonetheless, we’ve reminded ITV to take greater care around content discussing mental health and suicide in future,” the statement concluded. “ITV might consider the use of timely warnings or signposting of support services to ensure viewers are properly protected.”
Following the controversy around Morgan’s comments, “GMB” asked the presenter to apologize, which he refused to do, with an ITV spokesperson saying at the time: “Following discussions with ITV, Piers Morgan has decided now is the time to leave Good Morning Britain. ITV has accepted this decision and has nothing further to add.”
In a recent interview with The Telegraph, Morgan’s wife, journalist Celia Walden, revealed that “GMB” management had drafted an apology for Morgan to sign, which Walden advised him not to do because of the way it was worded.
Morgan took to Twitter to express his happiness at the Ofcom verdict. “I’m delighted OFCOM [sic] 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,” he tweeted. “This is a resounding victory for free speech and a resounding defeat for Princess Pinocchios. Do I get my job back?”
ITV declined to comment on the ruling – or whether Morgan would be reinstated to “GMB” – but in its report, Ofcom noted: “ITV said that it accepted that Mr Morgan had given strong views on 8 March 2021, but these were challenged by the co-presenter and other contributors ‘clearly and robustly’ in a way which added context to the comments and offered alternative viewpoints.”
“The Licensee said it believed these challenges mitigated the potential offence caused and ensured viewers were adequately protected from harm and offence.”