talkRadio channel reinstated to YouTube following censorship concerns

Posted on: January 6, 2021 by admin

The Society of Editors (SoE) has welcomed the fact digital video provider YouTube has reinstated programming by the UK’s talkRadio station after removing it from the platform.

The Society expressed its concerns to YouTube – owned by Google – after the station’s output was removed yesterday (Tuesday, January 5) because, the digital platform said, it violated their Community Guidelines.

The station’s channel was later reinstated by YouTube.

A spokesman for YouTube told the Society of Editors: “TalkRadio’s YouTube channel was briefly suspended, but upon further review, has now been reinstated.  We quickly remove flagged content that violate our Community Guidelines, including COVID-19 content that explicitly contradict expert consensus from local health authorities or the World Health Organization. 

“We make exceptions for material posted with an educational, documentary, scientific or artistic purpose, as was deemed in this case.”

SoE Executive Director Ian Murray welcomed the decision but said the initial removal of the channel was worrying and was an example of concerns the Society had expressed previously as to the vulnerability of legitimate mainstream media content to removal by the digital platforms.

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 commented on Tuesday: “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 decision to remove talkRadio from YouTube came in the early hours of Tuesday morning shortly after Prime Minister Boris Johnson 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 yesterday, 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 following the removal, Cabinet Office Minister 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.”