GB News is a free-to-air television and radio news channel in the United Kingdom. The channel is available on Freeview, Freesat, Sky, YouView, Virgin Media and via the internet. Since 4 January 2022, an audio simulcast of the station has been available on DAB+ radio.

GB News
GB News Logo.svg
TypeTelevision news channel
CountryUnited Kingdom
Broadcast areaUnited Kingdom
HeadquartersPaddington, London, UK
Programming
Language(s)English
Ownership
OwnerAll Perspectives Ltd.
Key peopleAngelos Frangopoulos (CEO)
History
Launched13 June 2021; 12 months ago (2021-06-13)
Founder
  • Andrew Cole
  • Mark Schneider
Links
Websitewww.gbnews.uk Edit this at Wikidata
Availability
Terrestrial
FreeviewChannel 236 (SD)
Streaming media
gbnews.ukLive stream
YouTubeLive stream

Announced in September 2020 and launched in June 2021, the channel was founded with £60 million in funding, the majority of which was provided by American television conglomerate Discovery, Inc., Dubai-based investment firm Legatum,[1][2] and British investor Sir Paul Marshall. It was set up with the aim of broadcasting "original news, opinion and debate", with a mix of news coverage and opinion-based content. GB News is right-wing on political issues.[3][4][5][6][7]

GB News is owned by All Perspectives Ltd, which is a holding company, headquartered in London. As of February 2022 All Perspectives Ltd was controlled by four significant shareholders, three of whom are nationals of Malta, Britain, and New Zealand respectively, all with the same correspondence address in Dubai. The fourth is Warner Bros. Discovery EMEA, which is headquartered in London.[8] The CEO of GB News is Greek-Australian, Angelos Frangopoulos[9][10] who formerly ran Sky News Australia.

Andrew Neil left the BBC in 2020 to become the channel's chairman and present a prime-time evening programme. However, he resigned from his roles at the channel on 13 September 2021,[11] three months after its official launch, and was replaced as a presenter by Colin Brazier. Other hosts of shows on the channel include Alastair Stewart, Dan Wootton, Nigel Farage, Mark Steyn, Kirsty Gallacher, and Neil Oliver.

HistoryEdit

FoundationEdit

All Perspectives Ltd was founded as the holding company of GB News in September 2019, and was granted a licence to broadcast by Ofcom in January 2020.[12][13] GB News was founded by Andrew Cole and Mark Schneider, two executives associated with the chairman of Liberty Global, John C. Malone.[13] Its chief executive officer (CEO) is Angelos Frangopoulos, the former CEO of Sky News Australia.[14]

 
Andrew Neil, former GB News chairman and presenter, was the face of the channel in the run-up to its launch

On 25 September 2020, it was announced that Andrew Neil, who had presented live political programmes on the BBC for 25 years,[15] would leave the corporation after leading its coverage of the 2020 United States presidential election. He said that he had been in discussions to continue working on the BBC in a new format after the cancellation of his programme The Andrew Neil Show, but that these talks had "not come to fruition" and he had accepted the post of chairman of a new television news channel.[16] On the same day, he was announced as the presenter of a prime-time evening programme on the channel, due to launch early the next year. In a statement, Neil said that the channel would "champion robust, balanced debate and a range of perspectives on the issues that affect everyone in the UK, not just those living in the London area", and GB News was addressing a perceived gap in the market for "the vast number of British people who feel underserved and unheard by their media".[17]

In December 2020, Paul Marshall, a hedge-fund manager, was in talks to invest £10 million into GB News.[18] On 6 January 2021, GB News reached its £60 million fundraising aim, which it said was oversubscribed. The majority of the £60 million came from the American multinational Discovery, Inc., the United Arab Emirates-based investment firm Legatum,[19] and Marshall, who said he was investing in a personal capacity. GB News said it would recruit 140 staff, including 120 journalists, and would also launch "streaming, video-on-demand and audio services".[19]

The recruitment drive began on 25 January 2021.[20] The first presenters and journalists announced in the recruitment drive were Dan Wootton,[21] Colin Brazier,[22] Darren McCaffrey, Tom Harwood,[22] Michelle Dewberry,[23] Inaya Folarin Iman[24] and Alex Phillips.[25] Following Piers Morgan's departure from Good Morning Britain on 9 March,[26] Neil expressed interest in Morgan joining GB News instead.[27] However, Neil later said that talks were affected by a disagreement: "he's [Morgan] got his own idea of what he is worth and we [GB News] have a slightly different idea of what he's worth".[28] Later staff announced as joining the channel prior to its launch were Liam Halligan,[29] Andrew Doyle,[30] Rosie Wright,[31] Simon McCoy,[32] Kirsty Gallacher,[33] Alastair Stewart,[34] Neil Oliver,[35] Gloria De Piero,[36] Mercy Muroki[37] and Isabel Webster.[38]

For the period ending 31 May 2021 All Perspectives Ltd made a loss of £2.7 million.[39]

BroadcastingEdit

GB News commenced broadcasting at 20:00 BST on 13 June 2021.[40][41] Neil launched the channel by saying "We are proud to be British – the clue is in the name",[42] and after the opening night was said to be "jubilant" that his programme had "out-rated Sky News and BBC News Channel combined".[43]

 
Nigel Farage, former leader of the UKIP and Brexit political parties, presents a prime-time show on GB News

On 20 June Nigel Farage and Dehenna Davison joined GB News as contributors to host the Sunday morning political discussion programme The Political Correction.[44][45][46]

Neil took a break from presenting on the channel on 24 June, less than two weeks after its launch.[47]

It was reported by The Guardian in July that John McAndrew, director of news and programmes, formerly of Sky News and Euronews, had stood down from his role.[48] Senior executive producer Gill Penlington, formerly of CNN, ITV and Sky News, also left the channel in early July.[48] On 17 July it was announced that Nigel Farage, already a contributing presenter, would host Farage, a prime-time evening show, from 19 July.[49][50] Later that month, Mark Dolan joined the channel.[51] The following month, Talkradio's Patrick Christys joined to present To the Point on weekday mornings alongside Mercy Muroki. The programme replaced Brazier & Muroki.[52]

On 10 August the channel announced four political programmes to launch within weeks; The Briefing: AM with Tom Harwood, The Briefing: Lunchtime with Gloria De Piero, The Briefing: PM with Darren McCaffrey, and The Briefing: PMQs.[53] The following month, political journalist Isabel Oakeshott joined to host a weekly show.[54]

Neil was expected to have rejoined GB News in early September, but multiple news sources reported that his return had been postponed, with some speculating that this postponement might become indefinite.[55] On 13 September he announced he was stepping down as chairman and would no longer be presenting on the channel.[56][57] Later that month, on the BBC's Question Time, he said that he had become a "minority of one" on the channel's board, due to disputes over its approach to journalism.[58] Neil was replaced as a presenter by Colin Brazier in what The Telegraph described as a "fight back by swinging to the right".[59] Neil had been on a contract worth £4 million and included stress among the reasons for departing GB News.[60] In November 2021, Neil called his decision to lead the channel the "single biggest mistake" of his career, adding "The mistake was that I put my face on the tin and yet I quickly discovered that I really had no say over what was going into that tin".[61]

In October, following the launch announcement of rival TalkTV, GB News introduced half-hourly news bulletins and Sunday Express editor Mick Booker joined as editorial director.[62]

In late 2021, it was announced that Eamonn Holmes and Isabel Webster would present a Monday to Thursday breakfast show, Breakfast with Eamonn and Isabel. Stephen Dixon and Anne Diamond would present this show Friday to Sunday. In January 2022, the channel announced it would play "God Save the Queen" at the start of live programming every day.[63][64]

TransmissionEdit

TelevisionEdit

 
GB News headquarters, Riverbank House (building pictured on left), is separate from its studios in Paddington

The channel's office headquarters are at Riverbank House in London,[65] and it has studios at The Point building in the Paddington Basin area of the city.[66][67] GB News employs around 120 journalists.[1]

GB News is transmitted on digital terrestrial television in standard-definition and from the Astra 2F satellite in high-definition.[68][69] The transmissions are available on the Freeview, YouView,[70] Freesat (Channel 216 HD),[71] Sky and Virgin Media platforms.[72] The channel is also available live on the GB News iOS and Android application.[73] Red Bee Media has provided playout services for GB News since the channel's launch.[74]

RadioEdit

Following the launch of its television channel, GB News launched a national 24-hour radio station, GB News Radio, scheduled to launch in July 2021 on the Digital One digital radio multiplex.[75][76] The radio station is an audio simulcast of the televised channel, rather than a separate production and started test transmissions in December 2021.[75] Eamonn Holmes and Isabel Webster were the first to be heard on the simulcast when their television breakfast show started on 4 January 2022.[77][78][79]

In May 2022, figures published by Radio Joint Audience Research Limited (RAJAR) indicated GB News Radio had received an average audience of 239,000 listeners in its first three months of broadcasting.[80]

ProgrammingEdit

Neil stated in January 2021 that the channel would be "a fresh approach to news in Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland".[81][17] The channel plans to air 6,500 hours of "original news, opinion and debate" per year and it has hired 120 journalists.[82][22][17] Neil has said that the channel would not provide rolling news, but would, in similarity with some US networks like MSNBC and Fox News, divide each day into "individual programmes, news-based programmes, built around very strong presenters".[83] He said that it would aim to offer programming that would become "an appointment to view".[84] CEO Angelos Frangopoulos added that it will be a "mix" of news coverage and opinion where it will be taking "a very different view on the regulatory environment" that is controlled by Ofcom.[85] Instead of providing rolling news, the channel would be a mix of news, analysis, opinion and debate.[22]

According to BBC News, it is the first channel set up with an explicit political orientation in the United Kingdom.[86] The channel is described as right-leaning,[3][4][5][6][7] having been forecast to be so by the Financial Times,[87] and by The Guardian and City A.M. to be similar to Fox News.[84][13] In The New York Times, Neil was quoted as saying "In terms of formatting and style, I think MSNBC and Fox are the two templates we're following".[88] He also told the Evening Standard that Fox News was "an easy, inaccurate shorthand for what we are trying to do. In terms of format we are like Fox but we won't be like Fox in that they come from a hard right disinformation fake news conspiracy agenda. I have worked too long and hard to build up a journalistic reputation to consider going down that route."[89] BBC media editor Amol Rajan said that "it is not the first channel to be set up in Britain with a strong worldview ... But GB News is the first to be set up with an explicit political leaning".[21] Rajan also stated that "the validity of [the Fox News] comparison is limited".[21] GB News has not explicitly indicated a political allegiance, and UK news broadcasters are required by Ofcom to maintain "due impartiality".[90][22]

In a March 2021 episode of BBC Radio 4's The Media Show, Neil stated that his nightly news programme would contain segments such as "Wokewatch" and "Mediawatch".[91][92] The channel's breakfast show, The Great British Breakfast, initially had three co-anchors, in a similar style to Fox News' Fox & Friends,[33] but the format changed to two co-anchors from the second week of broadcasting. Free Speech Nation, a current affairs show hosted by Andrew Doyle, airs once a week.[30]

Comparisons in programming, format and political leanings have also been made between GB News and Sky News Australia, itself formerly led by GB News CEO Angelos Frangopoulos.[93][94]

In May 2022, former GB News staff told the New Statesman that at times they were so desperate for guests, they had resorted to "booking their own parents".[95]

ReceptionEdit

The channel launched to a mixed reception.[96][97] Judith Woods, writing for The Telegraph two days after the channel's launch, described it as "unutterably awful; boring, repetitive and cheapskate", rating it one out of five stars. Chris Bennion of The Telegraph rated it four out of five stars, writing, "On launch night, the GB News message came through loud and clear – despite glitches."[96][98] Jemima Kelly wrote for the Financial Times, "GB News is so tedious, so lacking in nuance, so whiny and frankly so low-quality, it is actually making me more sympathetic to the cause of those they deem 'woke'."[99]

Advertiser responseEdit

In February 2021, four months before the station began broadcasting, the pressure group Stop Funding Hate called for advertisers to boycott the station, based on what they thought it would represent.[100]

In June 2021, following the station's launch, several brands including Vodafone, IKEA, Kopparbergs Brewery, Grolsch, Nivea, Pinterest, Specsavers and Octopus Energy paused their advertising on the channel, expressing concerns over its content. Some of these advertisements had been placed on the brands' behalf without their knowledge, by Sky Media through their advertising opt-outs during GB News's schedule.[101][102][103] The Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, criticised Stop Funding Hate and what he described as "a vocal Twitter minority" for calling for the advertising boycott.[104][105]

Ratings and public responseEdit

336,000 viewers tuned in to see the launch of GB News.[106] The launch soon became the subject of ridicule due to the perceived poor production quality of the channel and frequent technical issues.[107] The channel also became subject to a number of pranks, including prank calls and gag names such as "GBeebies", a pun on the preschool channel CBeebies.[108][109][110]

Viewership fell following the launch of the channel.[111][112][113] A month after its launch, its daily viewership of just over 1 million trailed Sky News' 2.5 to 3 million viewers.[114] Audience figures subsequently fell further, and on 14 July, audience figures dropped so low they were reported as zero by the ratings measurement board BARB at least twice on the day, attributed to regular viewers boycotting the station after one of its presenters, Guto Harri, took a knee on-air in solidarity with the England football team.[115] GB News suspended the presenter, describing the event as an "unacceptable breach of our standards";[116][117] Harri later confirmed that he had permanently left the channel.[118] The first episode of Nigel Farage's show on 19 July attracted an average audience of 100,000.[119]

Ofcom received 373 complaints relating to a monologue made on the opening night's edition of Tonight Live with Dan Wootton in which he argued against the government's extension of the COVID-19-related lockdowns in the UK.[120] Ofcom decided not to pursue any of the complaints, a spokesperson saying "Our rules allow for rigorous debate around the response to coronavirus ... consistent with the right to free expression".[121]

In August 2021, seven weeks after GB News' launch, Ian Burrell wrote in the Evening Standard: "This channel has been both lampooned and ignored, but critics need to get used to something: GB News isn't going away."[122]

The Daily Telegraph reported that, in October 2021, "Nigel Farage remained the station's biggest draw, hauling in between 50,000 and 80,000 viewers while most of the channel's output remains firmly below 30,000."[123] A Daily Telegraph report in December 2021 stated that Farage's nightly programme regularly gets around 150,000 viewers.[124] In February 2022 Press Gazette published an article including statistics on the audience and social following for GB News compared with other channels.[125]

On-air staffEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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