The comments by then “Good Morning Britain” host Piers Morgan on Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry and contestant behavior on “Love Island” topped what has been a record year for complaints to U.K. media regulator Ofcom.
TV and radio complaints to Ofcom’s broadcasting standards team topped 150,000, an increase of 124% on last year. These do not include complaints about the BBC, which are handled by the BBC in the first instance.
Morgan’s comments, which ultimately led to his stepping down from the ITV breakfast show, drew 54,595 complaints in March but the presenter was eventually cleared by Ofcom.
Faye Winter’s behavior toward fellow contestant Teddy Soares on ITV’s “Love Island” attracted 24,921 complaints.
Channel 5’s “Celebrities: What’s Happened To Your Face?” was third among the top five complaints, while the Oprah interview and another episode of “Love Island” were fourth and fifth.
Adam Baxter, director, standards and audience protection at Ofcom, said in a blog post that that the top five most-complained about programs account for 80% of all complaints and that social media also has its influence on complaints figures. Baxter wrote that the complaints “serve a vital purpose for us at Ofcom. They help alert us to genuine concerns about what people see and hear.”
“These volumes demonstrate the British public’s interest and passion for TV and radio programs, and shows just how important they are to the cultural fabric of our nation,” Baxter wrote.
“The judgments we make each day are often finely balanced – such as our highest profile case this year: Piers Morgan’s comments on Good Morning Britain in the wake of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey. But, given the importance of the right to freedom of expression, we only step in or take action against a broadcaster when we consider it necessary,” Baxter added.
This year Ofcom concluded 33 investigations and recorded 20 breaches of rules. Several of these cases were about hate speech or harmful, scientifically unfounded Coronavirus misinformation, Baxter said.