Illustrations by Megan Le Brocq
GB News, a brand new TV channel, could be on our screens by the end of this month. This news channel, hosted by Andrew Neil, aims to rival the BBC. According to Neil, GB News is all about “disrupting the status quo”, and it has already raised fears of pushing against the impartiality rules set by Ofcom. GB News will not be alone, either. It will be joined by News UK TV, backed by Rupert Murdoch. GB News and News UK TV both aim to target Britons who are not satisfied by the BBC’s output, and who apparently have not heard of Sky News (which is part of the Murdoch empire itself).
GB News has already been likened to a Fox News equivalent for the UK. Fox News has been repeatedly criticised for its biased right-leaning reporting, but the impression is that GB News, far from taking that as a criticism, has taken it in its stride. The chief executive of GB News, Angelos Frangopoulos, claims that, “We are proud to be adding plurality to UK media by investing in journalism that will be as diverse and broad-minded as the British people themselves”. But, maybe we should consider a few names from the supposedly diverse forthcoming line-up:
Colin Brazier – a Sky News journalist.
Michelle Dewberry – a pro-Brexit campaigner and candidate for the Brexit Party.
Inaya Folarin Iman – a journalist who has worked for The Telegraph and Daily Mail.
Tom Harwood – a journalist from the Daily Telegraph and Spectator.
Darren McCaffrey – a presenter of Raw News and has worked with Sky for 10 years.
Alex Phillips – a former Brexit Party MEP, writer for the Telegraph, and presents a twice weekly show on TalkRadio (which is owned by Rupert Murdoch).
Dan Wootton – a former executive editor at the Sun, and a presenter at TalkRadio.
Just a brief glance at the list—which is far from comprehensive—makes one wonder why they even bother to keep up appearances of impartiality. Given that one of GB News’ primary selling-points will be it’s ‘anti-woke’ stance, we can assume that it will hope to avoid raising any awareness regarding issues of social justice, like racism, environmentalism, poverty, feminism, elitism, and the list goes on. Whither impartiality? It also intends to pride itself as anti-establishment and against massive corporations—which seems bizarre given its £20 million backing by Discovery Inc. Whither coherence?
Of course, GB News does have its supporters. In a recent article written for The Telegraph, Ella Whelan makes the argument that GB News will offer greater diversity to our television screens, and that campaign groups such as Stop Funding Hate are themselves hate-mongering leviathans “merely wielding capitalism as a moral force to silence the press”.
Even if we ignore the names of the right-wing figures listed above, we cannot forget the well-established viewership of Sky News, the fact that News UK TV will soon reach the British public’s TV screens, or forget that the Sun, Daily Mail, and The Telegraph all exist. Not only do they exist, but the wield vast power and garner widespread public attention already. We already have a platforms displaying the diverse range of (right-wing) opinions. As for “wielding capitalism”, GB News wields quite a bit of capital itself with £60 million worth of funding ahead of its launch. If we follow Whelan’s logic, we must then assume that GB News will refuse to be a “moral force” in British journalism.