On the same day that Sky News officially launched its regional channel, YouTube has suspended Sky News Australia from uploading videos and live streams for one week. It has also removed a number of videos from the YouTube channel, which currently has 1.85m subscribers.
A number of videos were flagged under YouTube’s medical misinformation policy which “doesn’t allow content that spreads medical misinformation that contradicts local health authorities’ or the World Health Organization’s (WHO) medical information about Covid-19.”
Speaking about the decision, 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.”
Sky News digital editor Jack Houghton has also written that the ban amounts to a “disturbing attack on the ability to think freely.”
A YouTube spokesperson told Guardian Australia that “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.”
YouTube operates with a strike policy – the week-long suspension counts as one strike towards the YouTube channel. Three strikes in a 90 day period will see the channel permanently shut down.
The suspension comes only days after Sky News host Alan Jones had his regular column in Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph removed because of his controversial Covid-19 commentary.
Jones’ final column was posted last week and makes the argument that Covid-19 is no worse than the seasonal flu in healthy people.