The Society of Editors (SoE) has expressed its concern after digital video platform YouTube removed talkRadio’s channel from its programming today (Tuesday).
In a statement, YouTube – owned by Google – said the channel was being removed after the station “violated YouTube’s community guidelines,” but gave no more details.
The station, part of News UK and the broadcast arm of The Sun newspaper, is Ofcom licensed and regulated.
Ian Murray, executive director of the Society of Editors said: “This is a worrying turn of events. The Society has spoken of its concerns over the ability of the digital giants to censor genuine news and debate carried by the mainstream media.
“In discussions on the government’s proposed Online Harms legislation, for instance, we were given assurances the digital platforms would not be able to act in this way, however now we have a recognised and regulated mainstream news radio station being silenced.
“The Society welcomes the comments this morning from Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove that censorship is not acceptable and calls on the government to urge YouTube to reinstate talkRadio.”
The decision to remove talkRadio from YouTube came in the early hours of the morning shortly after the Prime Minister announced a new national lockdown for England and Wales. The station has debated the worth of lockdowns and the government’s measures to combat the Covid-19 crisis on many occasions.
In November last year the government announced it had come to an agreement with the digital giants to combat misinformation surrounding the Covid-19 vaccines.
In a statement, talkRadio said: “We urgently await a detailed response from Google/YouTube about the nature of the breach that has led to our channel being removed from its platform.
“talkRADIO is an Ofcom licensed and regulated broadcaster and has robust editorial controls in place, taking care to balance debate.
“We regularly interrogate government data and we have controls in place, use verifiable sources and give space to a careful selection of voices and opinions.”
Speaking on talkRadio’s Julia Hartley-Brewer programme this morning, Michael Gove, said: “I don’t believe in censorship and we have a free and fair press. We have commentators and interviewers of distinction who do criticise the government’s position from Lord Sumption, a former Supreme Court Judge– to Peter Hitchins, the distinguished Mail on Sunday columnist and others. And long may it remain so. I respectfully disagree with them but I think it’s important their voices are heard and that debate takes place.”