The outspoken broadcaster’s comments about Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sparked 54,595 complaints to the watchdog, making it the most-complained about moment of the year.
Responding to the news, Piers tweeted: ‘Delighted to have perpetrated the most complained about moment on UK TV for 2021…. especially because every single one of the absurd complaints was rejected. Thanks Princess Pinocchio!’
Earlier this year, he quit GMB following a huge number of complaints about the remarks he made concerning the interview, when she discussed her mental health and previously suffering from suicidal thoughts.
After Meghan made a formal complaint to Ofcom, Piers was later cleared by the watchdog, after it concluded that he did not breach the broadcasting code.
Ofcom’s director for Standards and Audience Protection Adam Baxter has defended the organisation over its ruling in September, when the presenter was cleared as they concluded that he did not breach the broadcasting code.
Reflecting on the case as he wrote about 2021 as a whole, he said: ‘The judgments we make each day are often finely balanced – such as our highest profile case this year: Piers Morgan’s comments on Good Morning Britain in the wake of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey.
‘But, given the importance of the right to freedom of expression, we only step in or take action against a broadcaster when we consider it necessary.
‘This year we concluded 33 investigations and recorded 20 breaches of our rules. Many of these cases were about hate speech or harmful, scientifically unfounded Coronavirus misinformation.’
Meanwhile, the Oprah interview itself is at number four in the body’s rankings for 2021, having received 6,486 complaints.
Love Island appeared twice in the top five, with over 24,900 complaints over ‘Faye’s behaviour towards Teddy’, with another 4,337 made over the Casa Amor postcard.
Baxter revealed this year has broken records for complaints about television and radio programmes, with a massive increase on 2020.
He wrote: ‘2021 has been a record year for TV and radio complaints to our broadcasting standards team.
‘They’ve topped 150,000 – an increase of 124% on last year.’
BBC figures were not included in the tally because they’re dealt with by the broadcaster ‘in the first instance’, but the corporation’s coverage of the death of the Duke of Edinburgh in April drew 110,000 complaints within a week – the highest number ever published in the UK about television programming.
What is Ofcom and what does it cover?
Ofcom is the regulator for the communications services that we use and rely on each day.
The watchdog makes sure people get the best from their broadband, home phone and mobile services, as well as keeping an eye on TV and radio.
Ofcom deals with most content on television, radio and video-on-demand services, including the BBC. However, if your complaint is about something you saw or heard in a BBC programme, you may need to complain to the BBC first.
Its rules for television and radio programmes are set out in the Broadcasting Code.
The rules in the Broadcasting Code also apply to the BBC iPlayer.
This Broadcasting Code is the rule book that broadcasters have to follow and it covers a number of areas, including; protecting the under-18s, protecting audiences from harmful and/or offensive material and ensuring that news, in whatever form, is reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality.
Audiences can complain to Ofcom if they believe a breach of the Broadcasting Code has been made.
Every time Ofcom receives a complaint from a viewer or listener, they assess it to see if it needs further investigation.
If Ofcom decide to investigate, they will include the case in a list of new investigations, published in the Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin.
An investigation is a formal process which can take some time depending on the complexity of the issues involved.
Ofcom can also launch investigations in the absence of a complaint from a viewer or listener.