Sky News Australia temporarily suspended from YouTube

Sky News Australia temporarily suspended from YouTube
‘Disturbing attack on ability to think freely,’ says broadcaster

Sky News Australia has been temporarily suspended by YouTube after allegedly breaching the platform’s Covid misinformation policies.

The broadcaster announced on Sunday its channel had been withdrawn for seven days after the US-headquartered video-sharing site reviewed its content for compliance with coronavirus guidelines.

Australian media reported that the one-week suspension was issued on Thursday in relation to Sky News Australia’s content that allegedly denied the existence of Covid-19 or encouraged people to use hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin to treat the coronavirus, without providing “countervailing context”.

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.”

In a statement on their website, the broadcaster said it “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”.

A subsequent article by Jack Houghton, Sky News Australia’s digital editor, branded the decision a “disturbing attack on the ability to think freely”.

He said the seven-day ban was triggered by “opinion content the tech giant disagrees with” and claimed the videos YouTube “deemed unpalatable for societal consumption were debates around whether masks were effective and whether lockdowns were justified when considering their adverse health outcomes”.

Mr Houghton added that most of the removed videos dated to 2020 and that the “censorship” was driven by “political” motives.

The 24-hour cable and television channel, which claims to have 1.85 million YouTube subscribers, is operated by Australian News Channel Pty Ltd and is a subsidiary of News Corp Australia.

A YouTube spokesperson told Australian broadcaster ABC: “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.

“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.”

YouTube’s Covid-19 policy bans content that poses a serious risk of egregious harm or which spreads medical misinformation that contradicts local health authority or World Health Organisation medical information.

The Independent contacted YouTube and News Corp for further comment.

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