Susanna Reid said today she feels ‘awkward’ at being both an ITV employee and friends with
She said: ‘What struck me about the Ofcom ruling, and let me just say, on the one hand, I’ve got my friend Piers Morgan, and on the other hand, I’ve got my bosses ITV.
Susanna Reid talks about the Ofcom ruling on ITV’s Good Morning Britain today
Reid says she feels ‘awkward’ at being both friends with Piers Morgan and an ITV employee
Piers Morgan and his wife Celia Walden at the GQ Men of the Year Awards in London last night
‘So it’s obviously a slightly awkward moment right now. There is a very interesting decision.
‘Obviously the judgement was that Good Morning Britain did not break the broadcasting rules according to Ofcom because of the challenge and the context that was broadcast around Piers’s statements at the time.
GMB has lost a third of its average monthly audience since Piers Morgan quit in March
Good Morning Britain has lost more than a third of its average monthly audience since Piers Morgan quit in March, MailOnline can reveal today.
The ITV breakfast programme had an average audience of 883,478 in March, but this was at just 570,000 in August – equating to a fall of 35.5 per cent or 313,478 viewers in five months.
This is a much bigger drop than the one suffered by BBC Breakfast, which has lost 227,352 viewers or 15.5 per cent of its audience over the same time period, from 1,468,261 in March to 1,240,909 in August.
Audiences were much higher in March when the country was in its third national Covid-19 lockdown, with GMB overtaking BBC Breakfast for the first and only time on March 9 – the day Piers Morgan walked off set. On that day, 1,290,000 watched GMB against 1,250,000 tuning into BBC Breakfast.
But GMB has lost 86,126 more viewers than BBC Breakfast since March, when comparing this average to the August average. It also has not had a monthly figure above 700,000 since then.
‘Ofcom included this very significant freedom of speech declaration, took full account of freedom of expression, restricting his views would represent ‘an unwarranted and chilling restriction on freedom of expression’ and he was ‘entitled to say he disbelieved the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’. It’s all over the papers today as a ‘landmark judgement’.’
Mr Morgan’s wife Celia Walden was also on GMB this morning, talking about her new novel Payday, and said her husband was ‘very jubilant’ following the ruling.
She said: ‘I think I must have been in the gym or something and then suddenly got home and everything had exploded. So it was a big deal, and there were lots of people outside the house. And it’s been a strange few months.
‘But I think Piers is very jubilant today, as you would expect, and I think that that Ofcom statement was very strongly worded and robust, and so that was great.’
Their comments come one day after Mr Morgan’s broadcast questioning the Duchess of Sussex’s claims over her mental health was cleared by regulators.
But the 56-year-old TV presenter, who subsequently stormed off the Good Morning Britain set after clashing with a colleague, will not be offered his job back.
Mr Morgan made comments on air in March appearing to cast doubt on Meghan’s claim in her Oprah Winfrey interview that she had suffered from suicidal thoughts.
He quit the show after ITV bosses were said to have told him to apologise or leave. A senior ITV source said last night that there was no question of Mr Morgan returning.
Mr Morgan described the decision as a ‘resounding victory for free speech’, adding it was ‘a resounding defeat’ for ‘Princess Pinocchio’ – his nickname for Meghan.
Average viewers in August 2021 compared to average viewers in March 2021 for ITV’s Good Morning Britain and BBC Breakfast, based on data from TV ratings system Overnights.TV
Mr Morgan’s wife Celia Walden was also on Good Morning Britain today, talking about her new novel Payday, and said her husband was ‘very jubilant’ following the ruling
Ofcom suggested that restricting the views of Mr Morgan would represent ‘an unwarranted and chilling restriction on freedom of expression’ for both the broadcaster and its audience.
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He had been ‘entitled to say he disbelieved the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s allegations and to hold and express strong views that rigorously challenged their account’.
But while Mr Morgan appeared open to resuming his position on the GMB sofa, it was made clear last night that ITV has no plans to restore him.
Staff said they had thought bosses might pave the way for his return to the show, which lost viewers after he left.
On a social media post after the ruling was released, Mr Morgan had asked: ‘Do I get my job back?’
He told the Daily Mail: ‘Well it would seem that the reason why I was forced to leave has now been removed and technically I’m still under contract.
‘They are still paying me at the moment not to go in. So they could get their money’s worth if they want to.
Mr Morgan, pictured with Ms Reid in March, quit ITV’s Good Morning Britain amid the row
Celia Walden poses for a photograph at the Good Morning Britain studios in London today
‘Clearly Ofcom do not believe I should have been compelled to make an apology… So the ball is now back in ITV’s court.’
During the Oprah interview about royal life, Meghan claimed concerns for her mental health and suicidal thoughts had been ignored. She also alleged that a senior royal made racist comments about the possible colour of her son Archie’s skin.
On GMB the following day, Mr Morgan said: ‘I’m sorry, I don’t believe a word she says, Meghan Markle. I wouldn’t believe it if she read me a weather report.’
Ofcom criticised Morgan for his ‘apparent disregard’ of the seriousness of someone expressing suicidal thoughts and described comments on the show as ‘potentially harmful and highly offensive’.
But other contributors, including co-presenter Susanna Reid, had balanced out his remarks with their extensive challenge of him.
Without that, Ofcom said, it would have been ‘seriously concerned’ and its decision had been ‘finely balanced’ – but ITV had ‘provided adequate protection to viewers’.
It added that Mr Morgan’s comments made about race had been ‘sufficiently contextualised’.
Last night Mr Morgan said the ruling would be a ‘wake-up call’ to Meghan not to ‘spray gun the Royal Family on global television’ without providing any evidence.
He added that it was a ‘significant moment in the battle for free speech against the woke brigade’.
Mr Morgan made comments on air in March appearing to cast doubt on Meghan Markle’s claim in her Oprah Winfrey interview that she had suffered from suicidal thoughts
ITV welcomed the ruling, which it said ‘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’.
Mr Morgan retorted: ‘That’s not what the Ofcom report says in its conclusion. I suggest ITV reads it again.’
ITV chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall was under pressure last night to justify the way Mr Morgan was forced out.
The TV presenter also became embroiled in a Twitter row with Omid Scobie, co-author of the Harry and Meghan biography Finding Freedom, who accused him of ‘reinforcing a dangerous stigma’ over mental health. Mr Morgan told him: ‘Pipe down, Lickspittle.’
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