ITV faces backlash after Ofcom clears Piers Morgan

Left-leaning ITV boss Carolyn McCall was under pressure today as ‘woke’ bosses at the channel were criticised after Ofcom ruled Piers Morgan did not breach its broadcasting code with his criticism of Meghan Markle.

The regulator cleared Mr Morgan over his comments about the Duchess of Sussex, which sparked 50,000 complaints, following her Oprah Winfrey interview.

ITV lost hundreds of thousands of viewers and millions more in advertising revenue after Mr Morgan quit, amid a big ratings gap between GMB and rival BBC Breakfast. 

And ITV were today accused of ‘ruining their own hit breakfast show’ six months after the row in March which saw him quit the programme after six years.

Others said it was ‘very disappointing’ that Meghan ‘made ITV roll over with one phone call’ after she made a formal complaint about the broadcast. 

Viewers called on ITV to ‘bring back Piers’, urging them to ‘see sense’ and ‘do the right thing’ – while MailOnline columnist Dan Wootton led criticism of the channel.

Piers Morgan, pictured with co-host Susanna Reid, quit ITV's Good Morning Britain in March

Piers Morgan, pictured with co-host Susanna Reid, quit ITV's Good Morning Britain in March

Piers Morgan, pictured with co-host Susanna Reid, quit ITV’s Good Morning Britain in March

He said today: ‘Piers Morgan rightly cleared by Ofcom. Freedom of speech wins the day! And woke ITV ruined their own hit breakfast show in the process.

‘Wouldn’t want to be Harry waking up next to Meghan in Montecito in the morning when she picks up her phone.’

Pressure on ITV’s ‘leftie luvvie’ £900,000-a-year CEO Carolyn McCall who defended Love Island and Jeremy Kyle – but not Piers Morgan

EasyJet boss Carolyn McCall joined ITV as chief executive on £900,000-a-year in January 2018.

Ms McCall left easyJet after Adam Crozier stepped down at the end of June of 2017.

She is paid an annual salary of around £900,000 – but is eligible for an annual bonus to a maximum of 180 per cent of salary, a long-term incentive plan up to 265 per cent of salary and a generous 15 per cent pension allowance.

The mother-of-three – one of just seven female FTSE 100 bosses – was with easyJet for seven years after previously running the Guardian Media Group.

She worked her way up in the media company after starting as a research planner and became a close ally of former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger. 

The pair built up the paper’s website but were criticised for failing to make it profitable. 

Ms McCall has also held a non-executive director post at  Burberry, sat on the board of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and is a Trustee at the Royal Academy. 

The pair built up the paper’s website but were criticised for failing to make it profitable.

When she was in charge at easyJet, rival Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary dismissed her as ‘some old media luvvie’ due to her lack of airline experience.

Since joining ITV she has also been rocked by a series of scandals, including the cancellation of the Jeremy Kyle Show after a suicide.

She was dragged before MPs last year (pictured) and insisted guests gave ‘informed consent’ and knew the nature of the programme they were appearing on.

When accused of broadcasting a ‘human freak show’, she said: ‘It was adults, they went through a screening and vetting process, they went through quite a lot of hoops before they went on that show.’ 

Ms McCall also said she would be comfortable with her children appearing on Love Island.  



Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie said: ‘Great news for Piers Morgan as Ofcom clear him over his Meghan Truths on GMB. He told it like it is. Bloody nose for CEO Carolyn McCall who forced him out. Well said Ofcom for backing free speech.’

He added: ‘”A chilling restriction on freedom of expression.” The damning verdict by Ofcom on ITV’s silencing of Piers Morgan after he said he didn’t believe a word from Meghan Markle on royal racism. CEO Carolyn McCall ordered his ousting. She should be fired and Piers rehired. Right now.’

Presenter India Willoughby added: ‘At the end of the day, Piers Morgan was right. The fact Meghan MarkUp made ITV roll over with one phone call – very disappointing.’

Toby Young, of the Free Speech Union, told talkRADIO today: ‘It would have been absolutely absurd if Ofcom had censored Piers Morgan or Good Morning Britain in any way as a result of his remarks on that programme, and I’m very glad they haven’t done so.’

He added: ‘The idea that anyone who criticises Meghan Markle must be racist and that any criticism of her is a form of racism is just ridiculous.’

Ofcom said it approached ITV for a comment on their preliminary view that the show was not in breach of the code, but the corporation declined to comment. 

Today, the regulator said that Mr Morgan’s comments were ‘potentially harmful and offensive’ but said it also ‘took full account of freedom of expression’.

The presenter said the ruling was a ‘resounding victory’. Mr Morgan left GMB after saying he did not believe claims made by Meghan during her interview with Oprah.

The episode on March 8 was the most complained about moment in Ofcom’s history and it emerged that Meghan had made a formal complaint to ITV about Mr Morgan.

A statement from Ofcom said: ‘This was a finely-balanced decision. Mr Morgan’s comments were potentially harmful and offensive to viewers, and we recognise 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. ITV might consider the use of timely warnings or signposting of support services to ensure viewers are properly protected.’ 

Following the ruling, Morgan tweeted: ‘I’m delighted Ofcom 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. This is a resounding victory for free speech and a resounding defeat for Princess Pinocchios. Do I get my job back?’

Meghan, 40, said she was ignored when raising concerns about her mental health and alleged that racist comments had been made before the birth of her son, Archie.

After a clip aired of Meghan discussing her issues with mental health and suicidal thoughts and royal official’s knowledge of them, Mr Morgan said during the ITV programme: ‘I’m sorry, I don’t believe a word she says.

‘I wouldn’t believe her if she read me a weather report.’

His comments were criticised by mental health charity Mind.

In July this year Ofcom published a list of the 10 most complained about TV broadcasts as part of its annual report for 2020/21, with the Good Morning Britain episode during which Morgan made his comments becoming the most complained about TV moment in the watchdog’s history with 54,453 complaints.

A summary of the Ofcom ruling said: ‘This programme focused on the interview between Oprah Winfrey and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

‘It contained statements about suicide and mental health which had the potential to be harmful and highly offensive.

‘However, our decision is that overall the programme contained sufficient challenge to provide adequate protection and context to its viewers. 

‘We also considered that the comments about race in the programme could have been potentially highly offensive, but that the comments were sufficiently contextualised. Therefore, our decision is that the programme did not breach the Ofcom Broadcasting Code.’

An ITV spokesman was contacted for comment by MailOnline this morning. 



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