The liberal-left has long had a monopoly on broadcast media in the United Kingdom. Having once been the envy of journalists around the world, the BBC now far more closely resembles a left-wing propaganda outlet. Meanwhile, other channels such as Sky News and France24 similarly tend to push the liberal consensus. The only exception to that rule is Russia Today, although that in itself is a wholly unreliable news source aimed at bolstering the Putin regime abroad.
Yet in June this year, that all changed with the launch of GB News, a news channel that refreshingly describes itself as “proud to be British.” Although its leadership, which includes former BBC presenter Andrew Neil, would likely play down comparisons to Fox News, the comparison is clear. Similarities can also be drawn with Sky News Australia, a conservative news channel whose former CEO Angelos Frangopoulos is now the CEO at the London-based channel.
Today marks our 10th week on air!— GB News (@GBNEWS) August 22, 2021
💥Beaten Sky News’ peak audience ratings – 5 times!
👀 Got the highest watch time of any UK news channel
🤳Had almost 1 billion hits online
We give a voice to people who felt left out of the national conversation #GBN10 pic.twitter.com/hfdx9h8XMh
Despite a somewhat shaky start, which involved a series of technical glitches and a presenter foolishly “taking the knee” in an ode to Black Lives Matter live on air, the channel now appears to be rapidly finding its feet as a much needed alternative to the likes of the BBC and Sky (whose British operation bares little resemblance to its Austrlian counterpart).
A large part of this success can be attributed to the arrival of Nigel Farage, the mercurial politician who led the decades long campaign for Britain to leave the European Union. Having been the most successful politician of his generation, Farage is now also proving himself to be a formidable journalist and broadcaster.
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Consisting of news reports, debate, opinion monologues, and interviews with renowned figures from across the political spectrum, it has on some occasions surpassed the viewing figures of both Sky and the BBC combined. Guests on his show have included Texas Senator Ted Cruz, while former presidential adviser Sebastian Gorka has also appeared elsewhere on the channel.
Other prominent talent includes the former showbiz journalist Dan Wooton, the documentarian Neil Oliver, former Apprentice winner Michelle Dewsbery, and Andrew Doyle, the comedian behind the satirical Twitter account Titania McGrath, all of whom are willing to challenge the liberal consensus on everything from supposed endemic racism to both efficacy and effectiveness of lockdowns.
That is not to say the channel is one big ideological echo chamber. Among their presenters include the former Labour MP Gloria del Piero, as well as the outspoken Biden supporter and vaccine passport campaigner Tom Harwood. The channel is also constrained by Britain’s media regulator Ofcom, which forces them to provide different viewpoints on all the main topics of the day.
Political commentator Calvin Robinson, who regularly appears on the channel, told El American that the channel is what conservative minded people such as himself have been waiting for.
“GB News is exactly what people like me have been waiting for: a channel not afraid to ask the tough questions and step away from the approved narrative,” he explained. “The BBC and the mainstream media has become metropolitan elites lecturing normal British folk about the latest SJW fad. It’s tedious. GB News offers something different. Not to mention proper regional coverage.”
However, the chairman of the conservative think tank The Bow Group, Benjamin Harris Quinney, believes the channel’s editorial direction will depend on the outcome of a reported power struggle between Neil and Frangopoulos.
“If you look at the people who founded GB News, Andrew Neil and Robbie Gibb, as well as those around them, it is absurd to claim its foundation was a movement of conservatives,” Harris-Quinney explained. “These are consummate figures of the liberal establishment who very suddenly tried to rebrand themselves as anti-establishment went they lost their establishment jobs.”
“The notion that these figures are going to replicate Fox News in the UK and totally flip their positions on everything is ridiculous,” he continued. “However, if figures like Angelos Frangopoulos, with his pedigree at Sky News Australia, are able to clear out figures such as Neil, there is a much stronger claim to being able to offer a genuine alternative.”
Nevertheless, the channel appears to be winding up all the right people. The Guardian newspaper has suggested it is a “threat to democracy,” while far-left activist groups such as Stop Funding Hate are already waging boycott campaigns against advertisers. However, such efforts appear to have backfired after recent polls found that people are more likely to watch the channel as a result.
Whatever the political nuances among those running the channel, GB News is undoubtedly tapping into a desperately needed gap in Britain’s television market. And if it can replicate even a fraction of the success of the Fox News empire, it will be one extremely profitable venture.
Ben Kew is English Editor of El American. He studied politics and modern languages at the University of Bristol where he developed a passion for the Americas and anti-communist movements. He previously worked as a national security correspondent for Breitbart News. He has also written for The Spectator, Spiked, PanAm Post, and The Independent
Ben Kew es editor en inglés de El American. Estudió política y lenguas modernas en la Universidad de Bristol, donde desarrolló una pasión por las Américas y los movimientos anticomunistas. Anteriormente trabajó como corresponsal de seguridad nacional para Breitbart News. También ha escrito para The Spectator, Spiked, PanAm Post y The Independent.