GB News – the “anti-woke” channel envisaged as a rival to the likes of Sky and the BBC – has landed.
Unveiling the network on Sunday night, broadcasting bulldog Andrew Neil said it would “expose the growing promotion of cancel culture” and give a voice “to those who feel sidelined or silenced.”
The former BBC political interviewer, who is now chairman of GB News, said the 24-hour channel would cover “the stories that matter to you and those that have been neglected” rather than “slavishly follow the existing news agenda” (the programme then went on to cover topics such as Harry and Meghan, taking the knee and lockdown...).
He is joined by a host of other high-profile signings, including The Sun’s executive editor Dan Wootton, Soccer Aid’s Kirsty Gallagher, and former ITV presenter Alastair Stewart.
While some members of the public have shared their delight at the arrival of a new kind of news offering – which boasts of countering the “metropolitan mindset” – others have dismissed it as the UK’s answer to Fox News.
It’s probably worth noting that, for a channel which touts its pride in Britain, it’s owners are US media moguls Mark Schneider and Andrew Coles.
Already, it has generated much debate online, with viewers divided over its handling of key issues and its decision to provide a platform to the likes of Lord Alan Sugar and Nigel Farage.
Wootton’s show proved particularly divisive, as the tabloid heavyweight hit out at lockdown restrictions in what scores of viewers deemed to be the peddling of consipiracy theories.
His guest, Lord Sugar, also prompted widespread discussion, not only for his assessment of England footballers taking the knee and reflections on Brexit, but also for the backdrop for his live-streamed interview which many people likened to the decor of an Indian restaurant.
"Where would I take the knee? In Sainsbury's!?"
Lord Sugar says if England players want to take the knee during th… https://t.co/QSHVQRsnuK
In his introductory address, Neil said GB News “won’t dwell much on the latest gossip of the Westminster bubble”, adding that it will “puncture the pomposity of our elites in politics, business, media and academia and expose the growing promotion of cancel culture for the threat to free speech and democracy that it is”.
But, as some of the above tweets suggest, the launch was not without technical issues, meaning some of the speech didn’t flow too freely.
For example, Neil Oliver, known for programmes including Coast and A History Of Ancient Britain, suffered a brief problem with his microphone and the broadcast experiencing some sound issues.
He joked: “We are proud to have the king of Scotland in our line-up on GB News and I promise, your majesty, next time we will get you a better microphone.”
Introducing his own programme, Wootton, said: “We definitely want to do something different. We think there is a huge gap in the market.”
Ahead of the launch, Piers Morgan voiced his support for Neil and GB News’ chief executive officer Angelos Frangopoulos on Twitter.
He wrote: “Good luck to my old mucker @afneil and to @frangopoulos & the whole team on the launch of @GBNEWS tonight.
“Great to see a new TV news network on the airwaves & already making waves.”