GB News: force for good or hate?

GB News: force for good or hate?

The BBC and Sky have dominated the UK’s rolling TV news market for so long, it’s almost impossible to imagine a new competitor. Take a bow, GB News, the UK’s first major entrant in this market for a staggering 32 years.

Yup, GB News starts broadcasting on 13 June. Millions are expected to tune in on the first night, if nothing else to see how it differs in style and tone from its established competitors. For anyone who remembers the first few moments of Channel 4 in 1982, as I do (Countdown was the first programme, I recall) this is an exciting moment.

But hold on. Not everyone, it seems, finds the imminent arrival of a third rolling news broadcaster at all refreshing. To judge by social media, GB News is not so much a force for good as for evil. The campaigning body Stop Funding Hate has even called for an advertising boycott. That’s pretty serious, as TV news channels are notoriously unprofitable anyway.

So, why all the criticism? Well, GB News is being led by former BBC interrogator Andrew Neil, Chair of the right-leaning publication The Spectator, and has the stated mission of targeting the “vast number of British people who feel undeserved and unheard by their media”, giving “perspectives on the issues that affect everyone in the UK, not just those living in the London area”.

That’s quite a barb to aim at Sky and the Beeb. Some might agree, some might not. But we can all see where it’s coming from: like it or not, the BBC and Sky have a particular world view not shared by absolutely everyone in the UK.

However, it seems possible that the new channel will be much more measured, and less shouty and divisive, than some might expect, giving more time for in-depth debate and interviews and for a diverse range of opinions. Every Nigel Farage will need balancing with a Jeremy Corbyn.

My view is that we should give this new enterprise a chance. Most of us believe that competition is a good thing when it comes to newspapers, and just about every other product we buy, so why not TV too?

If GB News succeeds, it’ll do so on its own merits, by giving enough people an alternative approach that they can warm to. And if it fails, which is entirely possible, let it be because its output misses the mark, rather than because people have already decided, before day one, that it must be stopped at all costs.

I’m a big fan, generally, of the BBC. I like Sky too. But that doesn’t stop me being open to others. Three UK rolling news channels? I’m sure we’ll cope.

Article date

June 2nd, 2021

Robert Taylor

Media Trainer


My main passion is media training, and I’m proud to be one of the UK’s most experienced and successful trainers in this field.

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