The subscription TV news service has been banned over COVID-19 misinformation
YouTube has confirmed it has banned Sky News Australia from uploading videos or streaming onto its platform for 7 days.
In a statement provided to 6 News Australia, who broke the story, the media giant says it does not allow content that denies the existence of COVID-19:
“We have clear and established COVID-19 medical misinformation policies based on local and global health authority guidance, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 misinformation that could cause real-world harm.
We apply our policies equally for everyone regardless of uploader, and in accordance with these policies and our long-standing strikes system, removed videos from and issued a strike to Sky News Australia’s channel.
Specifically, we don’t allow content that denies the existence of COVID-19 or that encourages people to use Hydroxychloroquine or Ivermectin to treat or prevent the virus. We do allow for videos that have sufficient countervailing context, which the violative videos did not provide.”
According to YouTube’s policies:
- YouTube doesn’t allow medical 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.
- All of YouTube’s policies are applied consistently, regardless of the uploader. We remove content that violates our Community Guidelines and have a longstanding three strikes system.
Sky News Australia responded to the Youtube action by publishing a lengthy statement on its website. The broadcaster indicated it acknowledged YouTube’s right to enforce its own editorial policies with a spokesperson stating:
“We support broad discussion and debate on a wide range of topics and perspectives which is vital to any democracy.
“We take our commitment to meeting editorial and community expectations seriously.”
However, the statement went on to confirm Sky News; “expressly rejects that any host has ever denied the existence of COVID-19 as was implied, and no such videos were ever published or removed.”
The ban on posting new content will have significant impacts on revenue streams, which is now connecting with people on the far right around the world.
Last month The Australian reported Sky News videos were viewed 95.6 million times on YouTube.
Sky News Australia chief executive Paul Whittaker told the publication a digital presence was an important part of his strategy:
“The big change in this business has been we’ve moved in a quite a deliberate strategic way from a linear broadcast business to a truly multimedia platform business,”
“What we are seeing increasingly is people coming to us across other platforms, the Foxtel audience is still strong – more than a quarter of our audience this survey find us in this traditional way but increasingly people are finding us across digital platforms.”
Sky’s COVID-19 editorials have come under increasing scrutiny recently, especially those of veteran broadcaster Alan Jones who has maintained COVID-19 is no more deadly than the flu.
His views even led to an extraordinary attack from former radio colleague Ray Hadley who has labelled Jones’ conduct as “scurrilous, contemptible and undignified”.