THE UK’s media watchdog is looking increasingly as if it is not “up to the task” of protecting media freedom and impartiality, the SNP’s culture spokesperson at Westminster has said.

John Nicolson, the MP for Ochil and South Perthshire and a former BBC journalist, suggested that Ofcom had failed to enforce its own rules and allowed “radical right-wing schtick” to be broadcast without challenge.

Writing for The National, Nicolson took particular aim at the GB News channel, and what he called its "mini-me" of Talk TV.

He said: “It was the content and presenters rather than any technical ineptitude which I thought would kill off the channel [GB News].

READ MORE: John Nicolson: Ofcom is increasingly failing to stand up for a free and fair media

“We have strict rules around broadcasting in the UK – rules policed by Ofcom, the independent regulator. I assumed Ofcom would step in and force the channel to balance its radical right-wing schtick with some journalism, after which it would teeter and fall, the game over for its Fox News-style toxicity.

“And yet, here we are two years on, and the poison keeps spewing.”

The SNP MP’s comments come on the same day as Ofcom announced its decision that no rules around due impartiality had been broken in a Talk TV broadcast which featured former culture secretary Nadine Dorries interviewing Boris Johnson – her former boss and close political ally.

Ofcom ruled that the punditry broadcast on the Talk TV show between the interview segments meant the two Tory MPs’ conversation had been adequately balanced.

However, the watchdog simultaneously announced that it had launched a more full investigation into the GB News show presented by the married Tory MPs Esther McVey and Philip Davies (below).

The National:

Ofcom said it had launched the probe after complaints about a broadcast on March 11 which saw the two Conservatives interview their party’s own Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt.

Nicolson said the interview had been a “flagrant breach of Ofcom’s rules”, but also claimed that sources inside the watchdog had told him that the investigation’s conclusions were foregone.

The SNP MP wrote: “My Ofcom spies – it’s an unhappy place of work and leaks like a sieve – tell me Ofcom bosses have already decided to give the Esther & Phil Show a clean bill of health.”

He went on: “If so, that’s deeply worrying for all of us who want to see flourishing news and current affairs journalism free from political bias.

The National:

“The media landscape in the UK is already owned by a small enough clique of right-wing moguls. It’s never been more important for the regulator to stand up for media freedom. But increasingly it looks as if Ofcom isn’t up to the task.”

Ofcom has the ability to launch investigations into broadcasts that it thinks may have breached the rules, but in practice rarely uses its power. Both the investigations into Talk TV and GB News were launched after complaints were put in by viewers.

But Dorries may not be out of the woods yet, as Ofcom data shows that scores of complaints were put in about her “Friday Night with Nadine” show on March 24. The watchdog is to assess the complaints against its broadcasting code before deciding whether to take further action.