GB News: Andrew Neil’s right-leaning 24-hour TV channel explained - and expected launch date
Andrew Neil has been confirmed as the chair of GB News, a new 24-hour current affairs TV channel set to launch in the UK next year.
The veteran journalist and former BBC presenter will also be the host of a nightly primetime current affairs show on the network.
Mr Neil, who has been the BBC’s top political interviewer in recent years and hosted his own show, as well as This Week and Daily Politics, announced his departure from the BBC on Twitter last week.
The 71-year-old, who is also chairman of The Spectator magazine said: “GB News is the most exciting thing to happen in British television news for more than 20 years.
“We will 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.
“We’ve seen a huge gap in the market for a new form of television news.
“GB News is aimed at the vast number of British people who feel underserved and unheard by their media.”
Speaking to Good Morning Britain about the channel, Mr Neil said GB News “will not be a rolling news channel” but will instead model itself on US channels such as MSNBC and Fox News, in that it will have “news-based programmes, built around very strong presenters”.
He added: “Anchors with a bit of edge, a bit of attitude, bit of personality.”
While Mr Neil rejected the framing of the channel as being right-wing, or a UK equivalent to Fox News, The Telegraph has reported that journalists being approached to join the new channel say they were told it would be a right-wing alternative to the BBC.
However, Ofcom’s broadcasting code requires broadcasters to commit to “due impartiality on matters of political controversy” and Mr Neil told Sky News that the channel will host a variety of views and opinions.
Who else is behind it?
The channel has been set up by All Perspectives, a media company owned by Andrew Cole and Mark Schneider, both of whom have been directors of Liberty Global, owner of Virgin Media.
Mr Cole has been a vocal critic of the BBC and other UK news outlets, describing the publicly-funded broadcaster as “possibly the most biased propaganda machine in the world” and The Guardian as a “disgusting extremist rag” on LinkedIn.
So far the major financial backer of the channel is Discovery Inc, the US mass-media company which owns the Discovery channel as well as many others across the world.
Discovery has provided a quarter of the funding needed, and more investors are expected to flock to the channel in the coming months.
Where will GB News be available?
It will be available on Freeview, Sky and Virgin Media, as well as streaming online globally.
There are plans for the channel to feature more than 65,000 hours of content a year, broadcasting seven days a week across the UK and Ireland.
It is expected to start broadcasting in the new year, having acquired a broadcast license from Ofcom in January.
GB News says it will create more than 100 jobs across the UK.