Ofcom launches probe into BBC, ITV and C4 over 'hate preacher' interviews

Media regulator Ofcom has launched an investigation into the decision by broadcasters to air interviews with a radical Islamic cleric in the wake of the murder of soldier Lee Rigby.

BBC, ITV and Channel 4 are all to be the subject of the Ofcom probe after their interviews with Anjem Choudary in the days following the Woolwich attack attracted a number of complaints from viewers.

An Ofcom spokesman said that the investigation would be to establish “whether the broadcast of interviews with Anjem Choudary met generally accepted standards”.

The watchdog received 22 complaints over the broadcasts, with ten relating to ITV’s Daybreak, eight over Choudray’s appearance on Newsnight and four for his Channel 4 News interview.

In the immediate aftermath of Choudray’s appearances in May, during which he refused to outright condemn Rigby’s killers, there were calls for the tightening of regulations around broadcasting extremist views.

Home Secretary Theresa May wrote to Ofcom to encourage a ban on so-called “hate preachers”.

But speaking at the time, the BBC’s acting head of news Fran Unsworth defended the organisation’s decision to broadcast the interview.

She said that Choudary’s views were “an important part of the news story and added that he had been “strongly challenged” by presenter Kirsty Wark.

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