Good Morning Britain, Lorraine and This Morning among the most complained about shows in the UK in 2021, as Ofcom reports a record numbers of complaints.
Broadcast regulator Ofcom received over 150,000 complaints this year, an increase of 124% year-on-year. The figures exclude complaints about the BBC. These are handled by the BBC in the first instance. ITV was responsible for nine of the top ten most complained about shows. Meanwhile, just one Channel 5 show featured in the list.
Explaining the rise, Ofcom’s Adam Baxter, Director of Standards and Audience Protection, says a “relatively small number of TV shows drive the lion’s share; the top five most-complained about programmes account for 80% of all complaints. Social media – a digital home for modern-day water-cooler conversations – also has its influence on complaints figures.”
Segments about Meghan Markle and unvaccinated people drove the most complaints, alongside comments by Piers Morgan. Outside of ITV daytime programmes, only Love Island made it in to the top 10, driven by complaints about Faye’s behaviour towards Teddy.
Baxter noted however that “high numbers of complaints don’t automatically mean our rules have been broken. And there is no absolute right not to be offended by things we see and hear on TV and radio. Consistent with the right to freedom of expression, broadcasters can include potentially offensive material in their programmes, providing they put it into context and provide adequate protection to audiences.”
During 2021, Ofcom conducted 33 investigations and recorded 20 breaches of its rules. The majority of the breaches were related to hate speech or harmful, scientifically unfounded Coronavirus misinformation.
Most complained about programmes of 2021
- Good Morning Britain – ITV – 54,595 complaints, regarding the comments about the interview between Oprah Winfrey and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
- Love Island – ITV2 – 24,921 complaints, mostly about Faye’s behaviour towards Teddy.
- Celebrities: What’s happened to your face? – Channel 5 – 7,125 complaints, about remarks made on the appearance of celebrities in this programme.
- Oprah with Meghan and Harry – ITV – 6,486 complaints about the interview.
- Love Island – ITV2 – 4,337 complaints about the delivery of a postcard from Casa Amor.
- Lorraine – ITV – 3,769 complaints about Dr Hilary Jones’ comments regarding the number of unvaccinated people in hospital.
- Good Morning Britain – ITV – 3,249 complaints regarding Pier Morgan’s conduct on the show, including asking Charlotte Hawkins to stand up so viewers could see her skirt and Morgan’s conversation with Alex Beresford.
- Good Morning Britain – ITV – 2,632 complaints about Dr Hilary Jones criticising a fake coronavirus information leaflet followed by Richard Madeley tearing it up.
- Good Morning Britain – ITV – 2,104 complaints about a discussion on ditching unvaccinated friends.
- This Morning – ITV – 1,942 complaints about a segment called “How to Lose the Lockdown Pounds”
UPDATE: Total number of complaints to Ofcom by 31st December 2021 had increase to 173,132. The above figure of ‘over 150,000’ did not include the final fortnight of the year.