Six videos by Sky News Australia hosts Alan Jones, Rowan Dean and Rita Panahi removed from YouTube

Sky News videos advocating the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin as Covid treatments deleted as broadcaster suspended from video sharing platform

At least six videos from Sky News Australia hosts Alan Jones, Rowan Dean and Rita Panahi have been deleted for violating YouTube policies by advocating the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin as treatments for Covid-19.

YouTube and Sky News have both refused to reveal which Sky News content was removed when the search engine imposed a seven-day ban on the Murdoch-owned broadcaster.

However, Guardian Australia has uncovered six videos which Sky uploaded to YouTube during the pandemic but have since been deleted “for violating YouTube policies”.

Sky News has been banned from uploading any new content to YouTube or live streaming until Wednesday after violating the social media site’s medical misinformation policies.

YouTube said “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”.

Five of the six videos were from Dean and Panahi’s Outsiders program, and from 2020. Five of the six videos are either promoting hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin as treatment for Covid-19.

In one video, Panahi said “the leftist media’s disdain for Trump” meant it was “willing to have lives lost” due to opposition to hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19.

Sky News host Alan Jones has called for people to not participate in any illegal protests following the scenes across major cities on the weekend.

— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) July 27, 2021

Another features Jones in April 2020, then hosting the Jones & Richo show, speaking to billionaire Clive Palmer after he had secured 32m doses of hydroxychloroquine for Australia.

The last video is Dean calling an incident about the removal of a family from a flight after their two-year-old child could not be fitted with a mask “evil” and “authoritarianism”.

Sky’s digital editor Jack Houghton has reported that videos that questioned the effectiveness of masks and lockdowns were also targeted but did not reveal which shows they were from.

The media diversity inquiry is expected to call Sky News, YouTube, Google and the Australian Communications and Media Authority to give evidence about the ban as early as Friday.

“The obvious question is if the spread of misinformation isn’t allowed on the internet why is it on television broadcasts?” the chair of the senate inquiry into media diversity Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“There are questions for both the government regulator and the companies involved, and the media inquiry should investigate.

“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?”

The media regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (Acma), said it was “monitoring Sky’s response to ongoing community concerns about its coverage” but can’t investigate due to the self-regulatory system.

“Since the beginning of 2020, the Acma has received 23 complaints about Sky’s coverage of the Covid pandemic,” a spokesman said. “Most recently, the Acma received seven complaints relating to a broadcast on 12 July 2021 of a segment on the Alan Jones program featuring Mr Jones and Craig Kelly MP.

“The complainants were referred to Sky in the first instance and the Acma will consider the matter and take the broadcaster’s actions to correct and remove the segment into account if any of the complainants refer their complaint back to the Acma.”

The ban was imposed by the digital giant on Thursday, the day after the Daily Telegraph ended Jones’s regular column amid controversy about his Covid-19 commentary. Guardian Australia has been unable to determine whether the former 2GB’s broadcaster’s more recent videos have been removed.

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Sky News has said the videos that were removed were “old”, however Guardian Australia understands the deleted cache includes content from 2021, as well as 2020. Both YouTube and Sky News have declined to say which videos specifically were removed.

Guardian Australia uncovered the videos by sifting through thousands of videos on Sky News’ YouTube playlists uploaded during the pandemic, and using internet archive website to show what was originally in the deleted videos on those playlists.

Sky News host Chris Kenny said on Monday that the ban was “cancel culture writ large” and “censorship”.

Houghton said the ban was based on “one factor, the political persuasion of the person making the comments” and a lack of freedom of speech led to “Holodomor, Auschwitz and Mao”.

A Sky News Australia spokesperson said: “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.”


Amanda Meade and Josh Taylor

The GuardianTramp

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