April 20, 2020 / 2:38 PM / 4 months ago

TV host Holmes chided over comment on fake 5G/COVID-19 link

A man wearing a mask walks past a 5G advert as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Britain, April 14, 2020. REUTERS/John Sibley

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s media regulator criticised ITV presenter Eamonn Holmes on Monday over “ill-judged” comments that potentially gave credence to a conspiracy theory linking COVID-19 and 5G technology.

The free-to-air broadcaster came under fire last week after the presenter said during a morning news programme that no one knew whether it was true or not that 5G masts help spread the novel coronavirus.

The comments “risked undermining viewers’ trust in advice from public authorities and scientific evidence,” the regulator, Ofcom, said in a statement.

Ofcom said it had taken into account context provided by another presenter, Alice Beer, who strongly rejected the conspiracy theory earlier in this programme; a prominent caption which flagged that ‘fake news’ was being discussed, and an on-air statement by Holmes the following day.

“In view of these factors, we have issued guidance to ITV and its presenters,” Ofcom said.

Reporting by Paul Sandle, editing by Estelle Shirbon

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