Insights Ofcom finds no grounds to pursue any further a complaint by the Labour Party about the use by Sky News of the strapline “The Brexit Election”


Ofcom received a complaint from the Labour Party and a number of viewers about the use by Sky News of the strapline “The Brexit Election” as an onscreen label across its General Election coverage. The complainants considered the strapline gave “undue and unfair weight to the Conservative Party’s political agenda” and also favoured the Brexit Party.

After carefully considering these complaints, Ofcom found no grounds to pursue them further.

Ofcom says that it took into account the context of how “The Brexit Election” strapline has been used in Sky News’ election programming. Consistent with the right to freedom of expression, Ofcom says there is no prohibition on such a strapline being used by a broadcaster, as long as it complies with the Code. The regulator also took into account that the use of on-screen graphics and captions is a common editorial technique used by broadcasters to label and otherwise illustrate their content and make such content more engaging with audiences.

Ofcom considered that Brexit is an important background contextual factor that has been instrumental in shaping the debate within Parliament in the weeks and months leading up to the general election. In addition, given that the current extension to the Article 50 process runs out on 31 January 2020, the issue of what happens next in terms of the UK’s relationship with the EU will be determined by the election result and the make-up of the next Parliament. Against this backdrop, Ofcom considered it a reasonable editorial judgment for Sky News to use the strapline “The Brexit Election” to label its election programming. Further, Ofcom did not consider that the use of this strapline would in and of itself engage due impartiality considerations or indicate that Sky News is favouring any party or parties in the context of this particular election campaign.

Given the above, Ofcom did not consider that Sky News’ use of the strapline “The Brexit Election” raised issues warranting investigation under the Broadcasting Code.