19 Mar REGULATION – ITV REMOVES HEADLINES SHOWN IN MEGHAN AND HARRY INTERVIEW
Broadcaster ITV has removed four of the newspaper headlines shown during the interview by Oprah Winfrey with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, following a complaint from the publisher of the Daily Mail.
The headlines were displayed during the programme as evidence of tabloid racism in the UK, and three of them were taken from newspapers published by Associated Newspapers Limited (“ANL”)
ANL has since complained to both ITV, which carried the interview in this country, and to CBS, the US network which originally broadcast the interview, with ITV agreeing to remove the headlines from its catch-up service.
The interview contained a montage of newspaper headlines which purported to illustrate the couple’s treatment by the UK press.
However, shortly after the interview was broadcast, The Daily Telegraph reported that a third of the headlines highlighted were from non-UK gossip magazines, including American and Australian supermarket tabloids.
The newspaper also found that headlines which were used to allege racial bias by the UK press were in fact reports exposing racial slurs made by others.
ANL wrote to CBS to complain, referring to what it called “the deliberate distortion and doctoring of newspaper headlines in the misleading montage of British newspapers broadcast in ‘Oprah with Meghan and Harry’.”
Its letter went on to say that “Many of the headlines have been either taken out of context or deliberately edited and displayed as supporting evidence for the programme’s claim that the Duchess of Sussex was subjected to racist coverage by the British press.
“This editing was not made apparent to viewers and, as a result, this section of the programme is both seriously inaccurate and misleading.”’
ANL identified the “most egregious” example as being the use of the headline: “Meghan’s seed will taint our Royal Family” which it noted was in fact a report of the suspension from UKIP of someone over this and other racist texts about Meghan.
ITV agreed to remove four misleading headlines from the version of the two-hour interview on ITV Player.
In the US, Oprah Winfrey’s production company, Harpo Productions, issued a statement to Variety defending its journalism.
It said: “Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, shared in the interview their personal story. We stand by the broadcast in its entirety.”
The contrasting responses of the two broadcasters highlight the difference between the highly regulated environment in this country, where Ofcom requires broadcasters to ensure accuracy and fairness, and the more relaxed approach taken to television content in the US.