The crackdown on the Murdoch owned Sky News comes after Sky host Alan Jones’s column in the Daily Telegraph was dropped following his ongoing COVID-19 commentary and criticism of public health measures.
Sky News has a relatively small TV audience in Australia, but it’s YouTube channels have a broader audience and wide influence with 1.86 million subscribers – more than the ABC, Channel 9 or Channel 7.
According to YouTube, Sky News has been given its “first strike”. Three strikes in 90 days will see any YouTube channel deleted, permanently.
YouTube does not tolerate misinformation about COVID-19 that “poses a serious risk of egregious harm in contradiction with local and global health authorities’ guidance about COVID-19 treatment, prevention, transmission, and social distancing.”
The suspension of Sky News Australia on YouTube occurred on the same day Sky launched a free to air channel across regional Australia. The regional channel will broadcast all the existing Sky After Dark commentators including Alan Jones, Peta Credlin, and Andrew Bolt.
Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, Chair of the Senate Inquiry into Media Diversity, has called for the ban of Sky News to investigated, asking why the Australian Communications and Media Authority failed to take any previous action. Hanson-Young said it shouldn’t be left to just tech giants to deal with the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories.
“Many people are asking why it takes a tech company to hold Murdoch’s News Corp’s dissemination of Covid misinformation and conspiracy-theories to account. Where is the public media regulator in all this?” she said on Monday.
“We aren’t talking about just any YouTube account, Sky News is a commercial broadcaster and so the very obvious question is how can they get away with it on television? Sky News broadcasts on both a subscription service and also free-to-air in many regional areas – this puts the news channel clearly in ACMA’s remit.
“ACMA appears to be sitting on its hands while a tech giant upholds standards the government regulator doesn’t seem to have.”