Two new current affairs channels have caused controversy ahead of their official launch in spring this year. GB News will be funded by numerous investors, including Discovery Inc, and will be spearheaded by former BBC presenter Andrew Neil. News UK TV will be backed by Rupert Murdoch who also owns Fox News.
GB News will be a 24-hour news channel, with Andrew Neil hosting a nightly news programme. In addition to Neil, Tom Harwood, former senior reporter at the right-wing website Guido Fawkes, and journalist Darren McCaffrey have joined the GB News political team. In addition, former executive editor of the Sun, Dan Wooton, will also be joining GB News as one of the on-air presenters.
While GB News will be a traditional linear channel aiming to air 6,500 hours of original programming a year via Freeview, News UK’s channel will be available via streaming services. Gordon Smart will be returning to Murdoch’s News UK to take up a new role as a host and Executive Producer for a new show, provisionally titled News To Me. The panel show will be streamed live and on-demand with a new show each weeknight.
Both News UK TV and GB News are eager to offer viewers an alternative to mainstream media coverage with GB News claiming to be “committed to impartial journalism”.
Both launches are perfectly timed. As we have seen increased TV and Connected TV consumption over the last 10 months, it is expected that they will gain traction with audiences.
However, the news of the launches has already sparked reaction from industry experts along with the campaign group Stop Funding Hate, who have been urging people to join the hashtag Don’tFundGBNews. This has stemmed from claims that both Rupert Murdoch and Andrew Neil are keen to shake up the news sector as rivals in “anti-woke” television news. Neil has stated that today’s news debate is “too metropolitan, too southern and too middle-class”, not to mention, “Increasingly woke”.
New suppliers are always welcomed into the market as they provide advertisers with a new avenue to reach new and engaged audiences. However, despite the pending triumph they may have in terms of potential scale, we are at a fundamental turning point in the advertising industry. Outside of the usual considerations all brands seek before investing in any channel, there is now an increased scrutiny around content, messaging and brand ethos. The success will hinge on whether the new channels align with advertisers’ core brand values and initiatives. Should they fall short in this alignment commercial success maybe limited.