How Broadcasting Regulator Ofcom Failed British Public By Dismissing 2,000 Written Complaints About Matt Hancock Appearing On  I’m A Celebrity Show

How Broadcasting Regulator Ofcom Failed British Public By Dismissing 2,000 Written Complaints About Matt Hancock Appearing On I’m A Celebrity Show

By Gabriel Princewill-

Ofcom’s decision to reject complaints by nearly 2,000 members of the British public about Matt Hancock’s appearance on  ITV’s I’m a celebrity get me out of here was flagrantly erroneous, and amounted to inadvertent endorsement of discreditable individuals presented as stars to the British public. 

The regulator failed to adequately take into account the reasonable expectations of the British public, confining their decision to a useful but inexhaustible code of practise.

Capeesh Restaurant

AD: Capeesh Restaurant

Its dismissal of complaints about the inclusion of Hancock on the celebrity programme amounted to permitting practices that contribute to the degradation of society.

Several complaints were made to the broadcaster after former Health Secretary, Matt Hancock was allowed to appear on the celebrity show, despite having both broken lockdown rules, and those of the Parliamentary Committee. The broadcaster received 1,898 regarding Hancock’s inclusion in the programme, and wrongly let them all down.

Whilst Hancock was breaking rules and guidelines giving by his government, people were dying of Covid-19. According to government guidelines, breaching government guidelines would predispose more vulnerable people to deaths.

Oysterian Sea Food Restaurant And Bar

AD: Oysterian Sea Food Restaurant And Bar

The true figures of deaths caused by Covid has long been a contentious issue, following multiple allegations of exaggerations, but there were indeed several thousands of deaths predominantly caused by the virus, or induced by the virus.

According to official statistics, there were over two million deaths caused by Covid world wide.

In 2021, there was a total of 586,334 deaths registered in England and Wales . Of these deaths, 77,727 involved COVID-19 (13.3% of all deaths), of which, 67,350 were due to COVID-19 (11.5% of all deaths), according to official statistics

The reckless breach of government guidelines when added to the fact Mr Hancock broke Parliamentary Codes Of Conduct in joining the ITV show amounts to a flagrant disregard for standards by not just the former Health Secretary, but by programme makers and the broadcaster that featured him

Yet, the regulator dismissed complaints about the politician’s inclusion on the programme, citing the discretion of the broadcaster, which it supposedly regulates.

The recent video obtained by The Sunday Mirror revealing government staff dancing in close proximity and mocking Covid rules, shows the extent of disregard all the rule breakers had for the British public.

Ofcourse, the one  ostensible defence the rule breakers may have is the unestablished claim that statistical figures of deaths were faked, and they had secret knowledge of this, but were under duress not to openly disclose.

Broadcasters and regulators that turn a blind eye to unarguably wrong conduct, become complicit in such deplorable behaviour, and can gradually become unfit for purpose if they do not work on reforming their ethics and codes.

A comprehensive and thorough assessment of Ofcom’s decision relating to the near 2,ooo complaints Ofcom received is avowedly shown to have been heavily lacking in sound judgement, raising questions about the level of its standards over broadcasters in some respects.

Many of the regulator’s other codes, when scrutinised, measure up to reasonable standards,  but its inherent disposition to according full discretion to programme makers is painfully lacking in insight.

Celebrity Concept

Reality television shows have become a staple of modern entertainment, captivating audiences worldwide. Itv’s  “I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!”, has gained significant popularity over the years, but it’s mechanisms for framework for selecting contestants do not pass the test of competent assessment.

The decision to allow government ministers like Matt Hancock, who has previously broken COVID rules and breached  the parliamentary codes of conduct , necessarily raises questions about the role of broadcasters, and their understanding of the true concept of celebrity.

In June 2021, former UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock resigned after it was revealed that he breached COVID regulations by engaging in an affair with a colleague. This incident sparked public outrage, as citizens felt betrayed by a government official who had been instrumental in implementing strict measures to curb the pandemic.

It was also later revealed that he broke Parliamentary Codes Of Conduct by taking part in I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.


Notwithstanding the above, Itv considered it fit for the shamed Secretary to appear on the show, devoid of any moral compass in its decision. The regulator also regrettably left it to its discretion, when considering its complaints.

The broadcaster told this publication when pulled on their inclusion of Hancock:” w e have a robust set of measures in place to assess programme participants ahead of filming, including psychological evaluation, DBS background checks, and social media checks”….This response totally misses the point.

PR expert and Abbi Hoaxleigh said of this issue: ”The subsequent decision to allow Hancock on “I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!” raised concerns about the ethics and responsibility of broadcasters.

”When a government minister responsible for enforcing rules and regulations, breaches them, it undermines public trust in the entire system. Allowing such individuals to appear on reality TV shows can further erode public confidence, as it sends the message that rule-breaking behaviour can be easily forgiven or even celebrated.

”The resulting impact on the credibility of both the minister and the show itself should be a significant concern for broadcasters like Ofcom.

”There are now concerns for Ofcom to reflect seriously on some of its values, in order to ensure responsible broadcasting that considers important issues.

Reinforcing Ethical Behaviour and Accountability

Many professionals and ordinary members of the British public believe broadcasters have a duty to uphold ethical behaviour and promote accountability in society. The featuring of rule-breaking ministers on reality TV shows,  risks normalizing and even rewarding unethical conduct.

i Hoxleigh  continued: ”This not only undermines the principles of fairness and justice but also sends a troubling message to the public, suggesting that those in power can evade consequences for their actions. Where would that leave us?

Section 2.3: of the OFCOM Broadcasting Code recommends “applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may offend is justified by the ‘context’.” But is Hancock’s inclusion on the show distasteful enough to cause “harm and offence?”

”For some, his previous behaviour during lockdown was unforgivable; his appearance as a celebrity while still, MP for West Suffolk, was ill-advised, especially so soon after his misdeeds.

‘His experience of swift retribution in I’m a Celebrity… harks back to the days of stocks and pillories. In those times, law-breakers were ‘insulted, kicked, tickled, spat on, or pelted with vegetables.’ Is this the ‘context’ of the reality show enough for an MP who broke his own Government’s guidelines during the Covid-19 lockdown to show his face on I’m a Celebrity… We have come to accept this genre of television programmes, and now the format is under scrutiny.

‘According to OFCOM, the code was not breached despite Matt Hancock’s inclusion. In this context, the degree of harm likely to be caused to the audience was balanced. Perhaps the longevity of the show makes this decision careless about the ramifications.

‘Regulators need to take steps to mitigate the effects of harmful content, and now people’s presence may be enough to trigger an audience. The banner flown over the I’m a Celebrity… calling for Hancock to be evicted from the camp by COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice is a statement that cannot be ignored. I don’t know if Hancock has achieved his aims for appearing on the show, but I can only wonder if time is the greatest healer rather than this endurance of punishment.

 Ofcom’s Current Codes and Guidelines

Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, plays a crucial role in ensuring the quality and integrity of broadcasting content. While it already has codes and guidelines in place to regulate fairness, privacy, and harm in programming, there is a need for further strengthening to address the issue of celebrating rule-breakers.

Including specific rules in the code that prohibit broadcasters from featuring individuals who have recently breached ethical standards would send a clear message about the importance of upholding societal norms.

In order to  enhance the integrity of television programming, it would stand  Ofcom  in good stead to embrace wider principles that impose broader standards on all shows, including reality TV programs. These principles ought to encompass not only fairness, privacy, and harm, but also ethical conduct and accountability, since these impact harm too.

Through the reasonable and proficient expansion of its code to explicitly prohibit the celebration of rule-breakers, Ofcom can establish a higher standard for broadcasters and promote responsible and ethical content.

Ofcom needs to adopt stronger regulations against the celebration of rule-breakers,  demonstrating its commitment to fostering public trust and confidence in the broadcasting industry.

Strengthening the code would reassure the public that broadcasters are accountable for the content they produce and would discourage the promotion of unethical behaviour through television shows.

 Rethinking the Concept of Celebrity

Traditionally, celebrities have been seen as figures with significant influence and impact on society. They often possess a platform to express their opinions and advocate for social change. However, this concept of celebrity should not only revolve around popularity but also embody ethical values and responsibility. Allowing individuals who have recently breached rules to gain celebrity status can send a damaging message that undermines the importance of integrity and accountability.

The true concept of celebrity has historically never incorporated ethical considerations.

Most members of the British public do not think a star should lose their celebrity status because they are unfaithful to their partner for example, but a vast majority agree that those who cross certain boundaries of ethical conduct should no be celebrated.

When celebrities uphold ethical values and become role models, they inspire positive change and contribute to a better society. By celebrating individuals who have recently broken rules, broadcasters risk diluting the essence of true celebrity and sending a harmful message to their audience.

Broadcasters, represented by Ofcom, play a vital role in shaping public opinion and maintaining ethical standards in the media. Allowing government ministers like Matt Hancock, who have broken COVID rules and breached codes, on reality TV shows undermines public trust and credibility.

Strengthening their codes to forbid the celebration of rule-breakers, broadcasters and Ofcom can reinforce ethical behaviour, promote accountability, and shape a concept of celebrity that aligns with a reasonable degree of integrity and responsibility.

Ofcom’s primary role is to ensure that broadcasters maintain high standards and adhere to the Broadcasting Code. While the code already covers aspects such as fairness, privacy, and harm, it is essential for Ofcom to expand its remit to include regulating the selection and portrayal of  unsavoury individuals on television programs as some kind of heroes, when in fact they should be villains.

Ofcom spokesperson: “We assessed a range of complaints about this series, with the majority about Matt Hancock ‘s appearance as a contestant; his treatment by other campmates; and concerns about the number of bushtucker trials he was subjected to.

“In our view, we consider viewers of this well-established reality show would expect to see contestants tested in trials, often repeatedly, as well as conflict and tension within the group.

“Taking into account freedom of expression, our rules do not ban any particular person from taking part in programmes and the choice of contestants is a matter of editorial discretion for the broadcaster.”

It was pointed out to Ofcom after receiving their response that  Freedom Of Expression Under Article 10 of The Human Rights Act has limitations and are not absolute.

Article 10 Of Human Rights Act

1. ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

‘The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

The British Public had the right have their complaints upheld give credence to the protection of their health and promote the reasonable moral standard expected of the pubic and politicians in time of pandemic, and protecting the right of others, especially family of the bereaved, not to have rule breakers who disregard their own guidelines presented as celebrities.

Heritage And Restaurant Lounge Bar

AD: Heritage And Restaurant Lounge Bar






Spread the news