Adam Boulton and Kay Burley: almost 1,500 complaints to Ofcom

Viewers complain to watchdog about Sky News presenters' on-screen clashes with political figures
Busfield: Adam Boulton loses it with Labour

Adam Boulton

Adam Boulton: clashed with Alastair Campbell on Sky News. Photograph: BSkyB

Media regulator Ofcom has received almost 1,500 complaints about Adam Boulton's on-screen clash with Alastair Campbell and Kay Burley's interview with electoral reformist David Babbs.

As of this morning Ofcom has received a total of 1,418 complaints from members about the two incidents involving Sky News presenters. Burley's interview with Babbs, of electoral reform campaigning group 38 Degrees, attracted 722 complaints. The complainants accused Burley of bias and aggressive behaviour in the interview. The interview resulted in the presenter being heckled by protesters saying "sack Kay Burley" and a Twitter campaign.

Ofcom has also received 696 complaints about Sky News political editor Adam Boulton's on-screen row with former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell. Most of the complainants are understood to have objected to what they viewed as unprofessional behaviour by Boulton, who appeared to lose his temper after Campbell accused him of being "upset that David Cameron is not prime minister".

Ofcom is still assessing 700 complaints that Boulton allegedly "heckled" Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg about his expenses in the second leaders' debate.

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  • lynchgal lynchgal

    12 May 2010, 11:32AM

    This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be deleted.
  • Peel Peel

    12 May 2010, 11:42AM

    Well this really is the politicisation of Ofcom: I imagine all these twitters are co ordinated lefties who dislike the very existence of Sky

    I like 'Boulton and Randall unleashed' on Sky, and enjoyed hearing Osborne quizzed from the Telegraph angle, instead of from the normal BBC/Guardian angle, ie 'do you know how many administrators there are in the NHS?' Mr O did not know, nor did he know how much they cost.

    As to aggressive interviewing and interrupting just revisit Evan Davis' near hysterical 'interview' of Cameron on BBC;s Today Programme, and John Humphrys; continual interruptions of Gove on the same programme, in two interviews - we heard more of Mr H's view and prejudices than Gove's.

    So please: Ofcom, wise up. This is a political heist - Sky is exactly the same as the BBC, but less to the cultural and political left. Ignore these left wing bloggers, twitters and official complainers, or risk your own reputation as being just a left of centre quango, ripe for Tory deconstruction.

  • Kvothe Kvothe

    12 May 2010, 11:46AM

    It is I'm afraid, too late to have any effect. I can just about coutenance the tories being in power, but to have the biased head of the media rise it's savage head in such an explicit manner, to be denied the very foundation of journalism: fairness impartiality and integrity, and to see this in almost every newspaper and all the live coverage from both the BBC and Sky makes me feel that the voice of the people has been murdered, and is now propped up by the stings of Murdoch

  • EastFinchleyite EastFinchleyite

    12 May 2010, 11:50AM

    Don't blame Boulton and Burley, they work for Sky News. What do you expect? Like Fox News in the USA, Sky News has its own political agenda (or to be precise, the agenda of its owner). In this sense it is more like a newspaper than a TV station. UK newspaper (the Grauniad included) have long put their support behind particular political parties. Sky has just adopted this for the TV as well.

  • HerringBone HerringBone

    12 May 2010, 11:50AM

    Kay Burley's claim to fame is that she made Peter Andre cry - and so did Jordan. Hmmm.

    Adam Boulton was just following orders... a glimpse into the future with a castrated BBC perhaps.

    Me, I'm off to Greece where thingscan only get better... sounds familiar.

  • davedigital davedigital

    12 May 2010, 12:01PM

    Although all these events made amusing tv I don't think it showed any bias. It was embarrassing etc.

    Most complaints will be from people on the opposite side of the political spectrum and members of Lobby groups.

    I wasn't offended. It just proved to me what an unprofessional journalist he is. But that hardly makes it a hanging offence.

  • DisobeyMurdoch DisobeyMurdoch

    12 May 2010, 12:01PM

    Its fairly obvious why CSkyBBC want to axe Ofcom - we can't really have a regulator to uphold standards of impartiality in newstainment.

    Expect the next phase of Rupert's operation brainwashpocketsnatch is to con-Vince the public how Labour and the Lib Dems are halting the Conservatives 'progress'.

  • PaulMa PaulMa

    12 May 2010, 12:04PM

    Adam Boulton - compare and contrast with Brian Redhead's response to Nigel Lawson.

    Do you think we should have a one minute silence now in this interview, one for you to apologise for daring to suggest that you know how I vote and secondly perhaps in memory of monetarism which you have now discarded

  • HeyPeople HeyPeople

    12 May 2010, 12:14PM

    Ofcom generally look at issues of due impartiality for these 24 hour rolling news channels on the overall balance of their output, not one dust-up.

    Sky News is well within the boundaries of an impartial broadcaster - as people point out above, certain BBC Today presenters are equally as partial-sounding on occasion.

    In any case, can someone point out ANY case where Ofcom have actually punished a major broadcaster for a breach of due impartiality?

  • HeyPeople HeyPeople

    12 May 2010, 12:15PM


    12 May 2010, 11:46AM

    'all the live coverage from both the BBC and Sky makes me feel that the voice of the people has been murdered, and is now propped up by the stings of Murdoch'

    That's a bit overly-dramatic!

  • NotSingingAnymore NotSingingAnymore

    12 May 2010, 12:20PM

    This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be deleted.
  • planetnbm planetnbm

    12 May 2010, 12:20PM

    In respect of those people bless them, who are under the mis-aprehension that Sky have not been spreading propaganda in favour of the tories you would have to be blind not to see the truth,

    Right for Skys Microphone Stunt , to loaded PM questions, to selective reporting, to reporters bullying MPs who disagree with the Conservative stance and practically expressing the partisan views on TV, contsantly from start to finish, look again my friend........unless you dont want the truth to be known!

  • sodabicarb sodabicarb

    12 May 2010, 12:26PM

    12 May 2010, 12:04PM
    Adam Boulton - compare and contrast with Brian Redhead's response to Nigel Lawson.

    Do you think we should have a one minute silence now in this interview, one for you to apologise for daring to suggest that you know how I vote and secondly perhaps in memory of monetarism which you have now discarded

    I'm no ex-chancellor nor a biased BBC reporter but that makes it two minutes. No?

  • omegamale80 omegamale80

    12 May 2010, 12:27PM

    Look's like Murdoch is trying to encourage the Fox News style of anchor in Sky News. This is great, Fox News is brilliantly entertaining. They take themselves far too seriously...

  • BarlieChrooker BarlieChrooker

    12 May 2010, 12:28PM

    Sky are going the same way as Fox news in the U.S. Murdoch's minions have now abandoned the pretense of respect towards politicians and society, their own agenda is now the only thing that concerns them. Only question is, will be British people put up with it?

  • lynchgal lynchgal

    12 May 2010, 12:28PM

    P.S. Just signed up to follow sackkayburley on Twitter - thanks for that bit of info! I couldn't give a shit about her allegedly being an aggressive interviewer, I just can't stand her schollgirlish oohing and ahing over the most fatuous remarks.

  • socialsurgeon socialsurgeon

    12 May 2010, 12:29PM

    Sky Sports is great as a football fan but Sky News with their presenters, puffy overweight and over enhanced cosmetics.. grate.. They take themselves so bloody seriously all they are is newsreaders?? I'm waiting for the next ultra competitive studio set upgrade to include a Star Trek- like captains bridge with a mobile, elevating, gyroscopic, Anchormans chair ( BREAKING NEWS... IT'S FULLY LOADED with useless gadgets) called the SKYGOD POWER-SEAT

    Adam Boulton will request the bespoke-beige Lexus-vibrating model with extra-lux padding and comfy-spot heating

    David Dimbleby, Jeremy Paxman and Emily Maitless were superb on Election Night.. boundless levels of energy, intelligence and razor wit, the genetic polar opposites of this Sky mob...

  • FredTedster FredTedster

    12 May 2010, 12:31PM

    I had no idea who Adam Boulton was until I saw him being interviewed alongside Alastair Campbell. I assumed he was a Conservative spokesman placed in the interview to provide balance. Even so, I thought he was a particularly venal example of the species.

    It's depressing if, as HeyPeople says above, nothing is likely to come from these submissions to the PCC.

    The 24 Hour news coverage was hysterical, in my view. Justin Webb on the Today programme this morning noted that rolling news channels were almost daring the markets to react to each twist. That's unhelpful at best, and downright undemocratic at worst. They're meant to report the news, not make it, after all...

  • Oleg29 Oleg29

    12 May 2010, 12:34PM

    Do you think we should have a one minute silence now in this interview, one for you to apologise for daring to suggest that you know how I vote and secondly perhaps in memory of monetarism which you have now discarded

    I'm no ex-chancellor nor a biased BBC reporter but that makes it two minutes. No?

    No. You should read "one for you to apologise..." as "firstly for you to apologise...".

  • sodabicarb sodabicarb

    12 May 2010, 12:34PM

    Isn't Guardian biased? So why shouldn't Sky be? After all they are not getting any public money like the BBC, so they can support any party they wish. It is up to the pperson being interviewed to make a judgement call whether he or she would want to appear on a TV channel that is biased against them.

    I saw Kay Burley's interview with David Babbs on YouTube. I don't know why the guy just kept smiling and answering her ridiculous jibes. He could have easily turned around and said that if he went home, then she'll have to go as well and be out of a job.

    Boulton is a self important fart anyway, This spat will unfortunately raise the profile of Sky News.

  • Kvothe Kvothe

    12 May 2010, 12:37PM

    @ HeyPeople

    That's a bit overly-dramatic!

    Really? If you read my quote i was referring to the behaviour of the newspapers alongside, the live coverage. As i have seen pointed out on many occasions by others, and by what i have seen and heard myself, the Press have all really been supporting one party, which by itself gained only 37% of 65% of the people who in this country are elegible to vote, hardly the party of the people. Granted there will never be 100% impartiality, yet we have been subjected to this thoroughly created ubiquitous tory atmosphere; where Brown and Labour are shown at their worst and the tory party can do no wrong. If we are going to have criticism as to amount to denigration at least let it go both ways.

  • CaptCrash CaptCrash

    12 May 2010, 12:38PM


    Ofcom is there to ensure that TV is decent and where there is political coverage, that it is unbiased and fair.

    The troubl is not that Ofcom is politicised, but that Sky TV is politicised, and for very good reason.

    News International is upset that the BBC has a world prescence and free, advert free internet news.

    The BBC, paid for by our TV licences provides an excellent broad coverage of news and entertainent from which News International cannot make a profit.

    Some politicians now in Downing Street are rumoured to have "done a deal" with News International about the break up of the BBC, which would also make a little economic sense for the government, as it rakes in cash from subsidiary privatisations (such as BBC world).

    But what it will mean for the rest of us is poorer "free" coverage on radio, TV and internet, no reduction in the licence fee, whilst we end up paying for the equivelent from a far from impartial News International.

    No wonder the Sun and Boulton were putting the boot into Gordon.

  • Vicker23 Vicker23

    12 May 2010, 12:38PM

    As for all the accusations of the BBC being a leftie organisation, as far as I can tell most of the political pundits on the BBC are tories. Despite this Kay Burley and Adam Boulton are beyond the pale, and getting worse... they should be sacked and Sky severely pulled up for contravening broadcasting standards

  • regal regal

    12 May 2010, 12:38PM

    adam boulton and kay burley done very good interviews,but they are interviewing new labour people and they never tell the truth,so i would say well done to adam boulton and kay burley.

  • Hibernica Hibernica

    12 May 2010, 12:40PM

    In future we should just refer to them as Sky/Fox.

    With ninety per cent of newspapers issuing Tory propaganda on a daily basis and Murdoch having the same malign effect on broadcasting as he has had on the print media over the years it's quite a shock that Cameron couldn't deliver much more than one in three voters.

    Nevertheless, Rupert has got his man into Number 10. He's won again.

  • planetnbm planetnbm

    12 May 2010, 12:52PM

    If you want to complain about Skys conduct below is the link to OFCOM.

    Don't be played.........

  • DrGee DrGee

    12 May 2010, 12:53PM

    Never heard of this Kay Burley person before but that's what comes of not tuning in to Sky News I suppose. She comes across as a bit of a bigot in that diatribe masquerading as an interview.

  • Persemillion Persemillion

    12 May 2010, 12:56PM

    Murdoch didn't get Cameron into number 10 (even if you vote Labour, you should be able to see that).

    Emily Maitliss was rubbish with all this 'my team' egotistical nonsense.

  • Aceofspades25 Aceofspades25

    12 May 2010, 12:59PM

    I'm glad this is all coming to light. Sky news' only purpose is to expose people to biased right wing propoganda.

    I've considered joining sky in the past, but won't be going anywhere near them in the future.

    I simply won't have that trash in my home.

  • planetnbm planetnbm

    12 May 2010, 1:02PM

    Of course it is a well known fact that news papers have political agendas, however they are not bound as are tv news broadcasters to a code of conduct which Sky are in breach of. Further more there are thousands of people who feel the same way.........

  • FredTedster FredTedster

    12 May 2010, 1:02PM


    Yup - there's a clear conflict of interest here, between News International's business interests, it's support for a political party which would help facilitate those interests, and it's role as a news broadcaster.

    It has successfully blurred the lines between comment and advocacy.

    As for the 'you can switch it off' argument. Yes of course you can, but we've always sought to create television which reflects with balance the diversity of opinion in this country (we can argue about how successful that's been - but that's the intent). Without that, we'd get TV which looks much more like the (often pretty rancid) UK newspaper industry. If that bothers you, then the agnosticism of 'just switch over' won't cut it.

  • footienut footienut

    12 May 2010, 1:03PM

    Do you honestly think that sky cares if it generates complaints. All it means is that viewer figures are up because those who complained will now tune it to see how their complaints are handled and to be outraged more.

    More viewers = more ad revenue = profit for Uncle Rupert.

  • alexanderc alexanderc

    12 May 2010, 1:09PM

    This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be deleted.
  • Primaballerina Primaballerina

    12 May 2010, 1:15PM

    Will somebody please tell Adam Boulton to shut up and stop yakking in the background while the brilliant Laura Keunssberg is reporting - he has been trying to put her off all morning!

  • garn138 garn138

    12 May 2010, 1:15PM

    Never mind the politics.
    This is about someone being really bad at their job.
    Journalists are not meant to lose their cool to such an extent they look like they are about to punch their "guest".
    Boulton and Burley seem hysterical and out of control.
    Nick Robinson on the other hand seems to be getting a bit of unfair stick here. I think people are letting the knowledge he used to be a Tory sway their view of him. His reporting has been fine, especially compared to Sky.

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