YouTube May Have Banned Sky News, But It Still Launched A New Free-To-Air Channel

YouTube May Have Banned Sky News, But It Still Launched A New Free-To-Air Channel
Image: Sky News

YouTube has officially banned Sky News Australia from uploading content for seven days after the outlet was accused of violating medical misinformation policies.

The temporary ban was imposed on Thursday afternoon, just a day after The Daily Telegraph (also owned by News Corp Australia) ended Sky News host Alan Jones’ column after his repeatedly controversial COVID-19 takes. Despite ending his column, News Corp Australia still asserts its support for the “compelling” host.

The temporary suspension comes as the first “strike” under YouTube’s three-strike policy, the last of which can result in a channel being permanently removed from the platform.

YouTube is yet to specify which videos in particular were removed from the platform, but confirmed that multiple pieces of content were removed in the process.

“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,” a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement provided to Gizmodo Australia.

“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.”

A previous version of the statement provided to The Guardian also included the following:

“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.”

In response to the suspension, Sky News acknowledged that it takes its “commitment to meeting editorial and community expectations seriously”, but rejects the assertion that it ever denied the existence of COVID-19.

“YouTube responded to media requests mentioning its “denial of COVID-19″ policies but it later dropped that reference in future media statements,” Sky News said in a statement.

“Sky News Australia 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.”

However, it’s worth noting that although subsequent statements have been shortened, YouTube has not officially retracted the part of the statement that alleges Sky News denied the existence of COVID-19. Gizmodo Australia understands that YouTube still stands by the original statement.

Despite being suspended from YouTube amid allegations it repeatedly spread medical misinformation, Sky News was still able to launch its free-to-air Sky News Regional channel across much of regional Australia on Sunday.