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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

GB News
CountryUnited Kingdom
Broadcast area
  • United Kingdom
  • Ireland
  • Europe
HeadquartersLondon, England, UK
Programming
Language(s)English
Ownership
OwnerAll Perspectives Ltd.
Key people
  • Alan McCormick (Chairman)[1]
  • Angelos Frangopoulos (CEO)
History
Launched13 June 2021; 2 years ago (2021-06-13)
Founder
  • Andrew Cole
  • Mark Schneider
Links
Websitewww.gbnews.com Edit this at Wikidata
Availability
Terrestrial
FreeviewChannel 236 (SD)
Streaming media
gbnews.comLive stream
YouTubeLive stream

GB News is a British free-to-air opinion-orientated[a] news television and radio channel. The channel is available on Freeview, Freesat, Sky, YouView, Virgin Media and via the internet on Samsung TV Plus and YouTube. An audio simulcast of the station is also available on DAB+ radio.

Announced in September 2020 and launched in June 2021 from studios at Paddington Basin, London, GB News became Britain's first television news start-up since the launch of Sky News in 1989.[2] It was set up with the aim of broadcasting "original news, opinion and debate", with a mix of news coverage and opinion-based content. The channel is described as right-leaning on political issues.[3][4][5] It is jointly owned by hedge fund manager Sir Paul Marshall and investment firm Legatum, under the umbrella of a holding company, All Perspectives Ltd, which is headquartered in London. As of August 2022, All Perspectives Ltd was controlled by three significant shareholders, all of whom work for Christopher Chandler's Dubai-based investment firm Legatum.[6][7] The CEO of GB News is Angelos Frangopoulos,[8][9] who formerly ran Sky News Australia.

The first chairman of GB News was Andrew Neil, who left the BBC in 2020 to set up the channel and present a prime-time evening programme. He presented only nine shows and resigned from his roles at the channel on 13 September 2021,[10] three months after its official launch. Hosts of shows on the channel include Nigel Farage, Eamonn Holmes, Michael Portillo, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Mark Dolan and Camilla Tominey, with Boris Johnson also joining the team.

The channel has been found to have breached Ofcom's standards on several occasions and as of 12 November 2023 was the subject of fourteen investigations[11] into its compliance with Ofcom's due impartiality rules, including cases of potential breaches of the rule that apart from exceptional circumstances, politicians should not act as newsreaders, reporters or interviewers.[12] In November 2023, Ofcom chairman Michael Grade told the BBC's Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg that the regulator did not "want to be in the business of telling broadcasters, licensees, who they can employ, who they can't employ".[11]

History

Foundation

All Perspectives Ltd was founded as the holding company of GB News in September 2019, and was granted a licence to broadcast by Ofcom in January 2020.[13][14] GB News was founded by Andrew Cole and Mark Schneider, two executives associated with the chairman of Liberty Global, John C. Malone.[14] By August 2022, Cole and Schneider had resigned as directors after their holdings in the company were purchased by backers Sir Paul Marshall and Legatum.[7]

Andrew Neil, former GB News chairman and presenter, was the face of the channel in the run-up to its launch

On 25 September 2020, it was announced that Andrew Neil, who had presented live political programmes on the BBC for 25 years,[15] would leave the corporation after leading its coverage of the 2020 United States presidential election. He said that he had been in discussions to continue working on the BBC in a new format after the cancellation of his programme The Andrew Neil Show, but that these talks had "not come to fruition" and he had accepted the post of chairman of a new television news channel.[16] On the same day, he was announced as the presenter of a prime-time evening programme on the channel, due to launch early the next year. In a statement, Neil said that the channel would "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", and GB News was addressing a perceived gap in the market for "the vast number of British people who feel underserved and unheard by their media".[17]

In December 2020, Paul Marshall, a hedge-fund manager, was in talks to invest £10 million into GB News.[18] On 6 January 2021, GB News reached its £60 million fundraising aim, which it said was oversubscribed. The majority of the £60 million came from the Dubai-based investment firm Legatum, Marshall, who said he was investing in a personal capacity, and American multinational Discovery, Inc., whose stake in the company was bought out by the other backers in August 2022 as part of an additional capital injection of £60 million.[19][7]

Prior to its launch, GB News said it would recruit 140 staff, including 120 journalists, and would also launch "streaming, video-on-demand and audio services".[19] Since then, CEO Angelos Frangopoulos reported that the channel had employed over 200 journalists.[20]

The recruitment drive began on 25 January 2021.[21] The first presenters and journalists announced in the recruitment drive were Dan Wootton,[22] Colin Brazier,[23] Darren McCaffrey, Tom Harwood,[23] Michelle Dewberry,[24] Inaya Folarin Iman,[25] and Alex Phillips.[26] Following Piers Morgan's departure from Good Morning Britain on 9 March,[27] Neil expressed interest in Morgan joining GB News instead.[28] Neil later said that talks were affected by a disagreement: "he's [Morgan] got his own idea of what he is worth and we [GB News] have a slightly different idea of what he's worth".[29] Later staff announced as joining the channel prior to its launch were Liam Halligan,[30] Andrew Doyle,[31] Rosie Wright,[32] Simon McCoy,[33] Kirsty Gallacher,[34] Alastair Stewart,[35] Neil Oliver,[36] Gloria De Piero,[37] Mercy Muroki,[38] and Isabel Webster.[39]

For the period ending 31 May 2021 All Perspectives Ltd made a loss of £2.7 million.[40]

Launch

GB News commenced broadcasting at 20:00 BST on 13 June 2021.[41][42] Neil launched the channel by saying "We are proud to be British – the clue is in the name",[43] and after the opening night was said to be "jubilant" that his programme had "out-rated Sky News and BBC News Channel combined".[44]

Nigel Farage, former leader of UKIP and the Brexit Party, presents a prime-time show on GB News

On 20 June, Nigel Farage and Dehenna Davison joined GB News as contributors to host the Sunday morning political discussion programme The Political Correction.[45][46][47]

Neil took a break from presenting on the channel on 24 June, less than two weeks after its launch.[48]

It was reported by The Guardian in July that John McAndrew, director of news and programmes, formerly of Sky News and Euronews, had stood down from his role.[49] Senior executive producer Gill Penlington, formerly of CNN, ITV and Sky News, also left the channel in early July.[49] On 17 July it was announced that Nigel Farage, already a contributing presenter, would host Farage, a prime-time evening show, from 19 July.[50][51] Later that month, Mark Dolan joined the channel.[52] The following month, Talkradio's Patrick Christys joined to present To the Point on weekday mornings alongside Mercy Muroki. The programme replaced Brazier & Muroki.[53]

On 10 August, the channel announced four political programmes to launch within weeks; The Briefing: AM with Tom Harwood, The Briefing: Lunchtime with Gloria De Piero, The Briefing: PM with Darren McCaffrey, and The Briefing: PMQs.[54] The following month, political journalist Isabel Oakeshott joined to host a weekly show.[55]

Neil was expected to have rejoined GB News in early September, but multiple news sources reported that his return had been postponed, with some speculating that this postponement might become indefinite.[56] On 13 September he announced he was stepping down as chairman and would no longer be presenting on the channel.[57][58] Later that month, on the BBC's Question Time, he said that he had become a "minority of one" on the channel's board, due to disputes over its approach to journalism.[59] Neil was replaced as a presenter by Colin Brazier in what The Telegraph described as a "fight back by swinging to the right".[60] Neil had been on a contract worth £4 million and included stress among the reasons for departing GB News.[61] In November 2021, Neil called his decision to lead the channel the "single biggest mistake" of his career.[62]

Post Andrew Neil era

Jacob Rees-Mogg was one of the high-profile presenters joining the channel in 2023

In October, following the launch announcement of rival TalkTV, GB News introduced half-hourly news bulletins and Sunday Express editor Mick Booker joined as editorial director.[63]

In late 2021, it was announced that Eamonn Holmes and Isabel Webster would present a Monday to Thursday breakfast show, Breakfast with Eamonn and Isabel. Stephen Dixon and Anne Diamond would present this show Friday to Sunday. In January 2022, the channel announced it would play "God Save the Queen" at the start of live programming every day.[64][65]

Camilla Tominey, Michael Portillo and Andrew Pierce were announced as new presenters in August 2022.[7] Also, after the merger of AT&T’s WarnerMedia and Discovery Inc., the shares that Discovery had initially acquired in the channel's early days were put up for sale by new media group Warner Bros. Discovery.[66][67][68][69] Discovery's 25% stake was sold for £8 million, valuing the company at £32 million, almost half of what it was valued at in 2021.[70]

Michael Portillo hosts a show on politics, culture and the arts

In early September 2022, in a shakeup of the channel's afternoon programming, it was announced that presenters Colin Brazier and Alex Phillips had left the channel.[71] In the days following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, all regular programming was stopped and no advertisements were shown on the channel, with Alastair Stewart, Dan Wootton, Nigel Farage, Mark Longhurst and Patrick Christys presenting most of the coverage of the death of the Queen and Charles III's accession to the throne.[72]

In September 2022, novelist and former Head of Daytime at ITV and Channel 4 Helen Warner was appointed Head of Television at GB News.[73] Warner left the channel four months later, in January 2023.[74]

In October 2022, it was announced that actor and comedian John Cleese would be presenting his own show on GB News in 2023.[75] In 2022 Conservative member of the House of Lords, Helena Morrissey, Baroness Morrissey, became a director of GB News's parent company, All Perspectives.[76]

Following the cancellation of the weekday show To the Point, in November 2022, Bev Turner began hosting her own GB News show Bev Turner Today. She had already been a stand-in presenter on the channel.[77]

In January 2023, GB News announced that the Conservative MP for North East Somerset and former Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg would join the channel as a presenter.[78] ACOBA were notified of Rees-Mogg's appointment and made clear that his role with the channel is subject to a number of conditions.[79] A fifth Conservative MP, Lee Anderson, was announced to be joining the channel's hosting lineup in March.[80]

Ofcom have found the channel to have breached its standards on more than one occasion regarding misinformation.[81] During GB News' first year on air, their financial year ending May 2022, the company made a loss of £30.7 million.[82] Stewart retired as a regular presenter in 2023.[83]

In July 2023, an investigation was launched by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards regarding Lee Anderson and a promotional video created for his GB News show.[84]

In August 2023, Byline Times revealed that GB News had "settled an employment claim for a five-figure sum in which sexual harassment was alleged against its chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos – and shut down serious racism and bullying allegations raised by two other journalists with further pay-outs and gagging agreements".[85]

In October 2023, it was announced that Conservative politician, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, would be joining GB News in a presenting role.[86] Fellow upcoming GB News presenter John Cleese commented on Johnson's appointment noting that "I can hardly believe that GB News will give this proven serial liar his own programme".[87]

In November 2023 it was revealed that ownership of shares in the channel had been handed out to a number of people including some of the network's presenters such as Nigel Farage, Arlene Foster, Eamonn Holmes, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Neil Oliver, Camilla Tominey and Dan Wootton.[88] Laurence Fox had also been given shares though these were cancelled upon his leaving.[88] Michael Farmer, Baron Farmer, former treasurer of the Conservative party, increased his stake meanwhile Michael Spencer sold his stake.[88]

In 2023, former Channel 4 journalist Michael Crick – who has regularly featured on Jacob Rees-Mogg's programme on GB News[89] – spoke to Neil Oliver on his show, discussing freedom of speech. During his appearance, he said that Ofcom should regulate the channel for being politically biased, saying: "I've been fighting bias in television for a very long time, and it's one of the reasons I left Channel 4 News cause I thought it was left-wing biased, and I think Ofcom, which is one of the weakest institutions on the planet, should get a grip on you lot. It's absurd that you have Tory MP, after Tory MP, after Tory MP, two leaders of the Brexit Party [as hosts], and hardly any Labour MPs – you are a right-wing channel and the rules in this country are very clear."[90][91] Crick was abruptly removed from the programme and studio following his remarks, as the channel went to a advert break. When the show went back on air, Oliver said that he was "very disappointed about the sequence of events that just unfolded. The last thing I want to see during a conversation between grown-ups about censorship is that conversation being brought abruptly to a close by others. I feel that that conversation should have gone on to its conclusion. That’s the situation in which I find myself, I don't stand by censorship."[91] In a later discussion, he characterised the situation as "a discussion about censorship being censored".[91] Crick later described GB News as a "right-wing propaganda channel".[89]

Transmission

Television

GB News headquarters, Riverbank House (building pictured on left), is separate from its studios in Paddington

The channel's office headquarters are at Riverbank House in London,[92] and it has studios at The Point building in the Paddington Basin area of the city.[93][94] Later, the channel also began to broadcast from a studio on Albert Embankment with views towards Westminster and the Houses of Parliament. In 2023 GB News confirmed that it was expanding to another location in Westminster.[95] The channel began broadcasting from the new location on 28 August 2023 and later broadcast entire programmes from the new complex, located in the former Sky News Westminster studio at the QE2 Centre.[citation needed]

GB News employs around 120 journalists, comedians and presenters.[96] Several serving Members of Parliament are currently employed as presenters on the channel, including some who recently held positions within the previous Johnson and Truss cabinets.[78] Ofcom's rules state that MPs can be presenters but cannot be utilised as newsreaders.[97]

GB News is transmitted on digital terrestrial television in standard-definition and from the Astra 2F satellite in high-definition.[98][99] The transmissions are available on the Freeview, YouView,[100] Freesat (Channel 216 HD),[101] Sky and Virgin Media platforms.[102] The channel is also available live on the GB News application for mobile devices on iOS and Android.[103] Red Bee Media has provided playout services for GB News since the channel's launch.[104]

In March 2023 GB News changed its top-level domain from .uk to .com with the intention of attracting foreign readers.[105]

In August 2023, GB News had a total identified monthly audience (including sharing and streaming) of 2,786,000, with a nearly 1 minute average daily viewing according to BARB.[106]

In October 2023, GB News was banned from the Welsh Senedd's internal TV system, with a spokesperson for the presiding officer claiming the channel was "deliberately offensive, demeaning to public debate and contrary to our parliament's values".[107]

Radio

Following the launch of its television channel, in July 2021, GB News announced its intention to launch a national 24-hour radio station, GB News Radio, on the Digital One digital radio multiplex.[108][109] The radio station is an audio simulcast of the televised channel, rather than a separate production, and started test transmissions in December 2021.[108] Eamonn Holmes and Isabel Webster were the first to be heard on the simulcast when their television breakfast show started on 4 January 2022.[110][111][112]

RAJAR publishes quarterly statistics on radio audiences; GB News had a weekly audience of 317,000 for a listening share of 0.2% for June 2023.[113]: q. ending Jun23  By the end of the third quarter of 2023 that figure had risen to 398,000.[114] Figures for the final quarter of 2023, published on 1 February 2024, showed an average weekly audience of 430,000.[115]

Programming

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson is a high-profile presenter announced for the channel in 2023

Neil stated in January 2021 that the channel would be "a fresh approach to news in Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland".[116][17] The channel plans to air 6,500 hours of "original news, opinion and debate" per year and it has hired 120 journalists.[117][23][17] Neil has said that the channel would not provide rolling news, but would, in similarity with some US networks like MSNBC and Fox News, divide each day into "individual programmes, news-based programmes, built around very strong presenters".[118] He said that it would aim to offer programming that would become "an appointment to view".[119] CEO Angelos Frangopoulos added that it will be a "mix" of news coverage and opinion where it will be taking "a very different view on the regulatory environment" that is controlled by Ofcom.[120] Instead of providing rolling news, the channel would be a mix of news, analysis, opinion and debate.[23]

Five months before the channel launched, BBC News media editor Amol Rajan said GB News would be the first in the United Kingdom to be set up with an explicit political orientation.[121] Other forecasters also said the channel would be right-leaning,[122][123][124][125][126] and it was predicted by the Financial Times,[127] The Guardian and City A.M. that it would be similar to Fox News.[119][14] In The New York Times, Neil was quoted as saying "In terms of formatting and style, I think MSNBC and Fox are the two templates we're following".[128] He also told the Evening Standard that Fox News was "an easy, inaccurate shorthand for what we are trying to do. In terms of format, we are like Fox, but we won't be like Fox in that they come from a hard right disinformation fake news conspiracy agenda. I have worked too long and hard to build up a journalistic reputation to consider going down that route."[129] While acknowledging the channel to have an explicit right-wing political leaning, BBC media editor Amol Rajan also stated that "the validity of [the Fox News] comparison is limited".[22] GB News has not explicitly indicated a political allegiance, and UK news broadcasters are required by Ofcom to maintain "due impartiality".[130][23]

Comic actor John Cleese has his own show on the channel called The Dinosaur Hour

In a March 2021 episode of BBC Radio 4's The Media Show, Neil stated that his nightly news programme would contain segments such as "Wokewatch" and "Mediawatch".[131][132] The channel's breakfast show, The Great British Breakfast, initially had three co-anchors, in a similar style to Fox News' Fox & Friends,[34] but the format changed to two co-anchors from the second week of broadcasting. Free Speech Nation, a current affairs show hosted by Andrew Doyle, airs once a week.[31]

Comparisons in programming, format and political leanings have also been made between GB News and Sky News Australia, itself formerly led by GB News CEO Angelos Frangopoulos.[133][134]

In May 2022, former GB News staff told the New Statesman that at times they were so desperate for guests, they had resorted to "booking their own parents".[135]

GB News has also produced comedy shows such as a weekly topical comedy panel show titled Ministry of Offence,[136][137] and a comedic newspaper review show Headliners.[138]

In July 2023, presenter Dan Wootton used his GB News show to publicly deny any wrongdoing regarding allegations made in the press about his conduct.[139] During a 6-minute monologue Wootton explained that he had made "errors of judgment in the past" but that "criminal allegations being made against me are simply untrue".[139]

Reception

The channel launched to a mixed reception.[140][141] Judith Woods, writing for The Telegraph two days after the channel's launch, described it as "unutterably awful; boring, repetitive and cheapskate", rating it one out of five stars. Chris Bennion of The Telegraph rated it four out of five stars, writing, "On launch night, the GB News message came through loud and clear – despite glitches."[140][142] Jemima Kelly wrote for the Financial Times, "GB News is so tedious, so lacking in nuance, so whiny and frankly so low-quality, it is actually making me more sympathetic to the cause of those they deem 'woke'."[143]

In a 2023 poll by YouGov 12% of respondents ranked GB News as a trusted news-brand, compared to the BBC’s 44%.[144]

Advertiser response

In February 2021, four months before the station began broadcasting, the pressure group Stop Funding Hate called for advertisers to boycott the station, based on what they thought it would represent.[145]

In June 2021, following the station's launch, several brands including Vodafone, IKEA, Kopparbergs Brewery, Grolsch, Nivea, Pinterest, Specsavers and Octopus Energy paused their advertising on the channel, expressing concerns over its content. Some of these advertisements had been placed on the brands' behalf without their knowledge, by Sky Media through their advertising opt-outs during GB News's schedule.[146][147][148] The Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, criticised Stop Funding Hate and what he described as "a vocal Twitter minority" for calling for the advertising boycott.[149][150]

In November 2023, in response to an advertiser boycott, GB News introduced an online paywall with three membership tiers. The channel, known for its outspoken approach, chose to seek new revenue streams following substantial financial losses in its first year and ongoing controversies, including breaches of impartiality rules and run-ins with the broadcasting regulator Ofcom.[151]

Ratings, public response and awards

336,000 viewers tuned in to see the launch of GB News.[152] The launch soon became the subject of ridicule due to the perceived poor production quality of the channel and frequent technical issues.[153] The channel also became subject to a number of pranks, including prank calls and gag names such as "GBeebies", a pun on the children's channel CBeebies.[154][155][156]

Viewership fell following the launch of the channel.[157][158][159] A month after its launch, its daily viewership of just over 1 million trailed Sky News' 2.5 to 3 million viewers.[160] Audience figures subsequently fell further, and on 14 July, audience figures dropped so low they were reported as zero by the ratings measurement board BARB at least twice on the day, attributed to regular viewers boycotting the station after one of its presenters, Guto Harri, took a knee on-air in solidarity with the England football team.[161] GB News suspended the presenter, describing the event as an "unacceptable breach of our standards";[162][163] Harri later confirmed that he had permanently left the channel.[164] The first episode of Nigel Farage's show on 19 July attracted an average audience of 100,000.[165]

In August 2021, seven weeks after GB News' launch, Ian Burrell wrote in the Evening Standard: "This channel has been both lampooned and ignored, but critics need to get used to something: GB News isn't going away."[166]

The Daily Telegraph reported that, in October 2021, "Nigel Farage remained the station's biggest draw, hauling in between 50,000 and 80,000 viewers while most of the channel's output remains firmly below 30,000."[167] A Daily Telegraph report in December 2021 stated that Farage's nightly programme regularly gets around 150,000 viewers.[168] In February 2022, Press Gazette published an article including statistics on the audience and social following for GB News compared with other channels. The article noted that GB News' four-week audience reach was slightly up in early January to 2.2 million, compared to a low point in November 2021.[169]

In May 2022, figures published by Radio Joint Audience Research Limited (RAJAR) showed GB News Radio had received an average audience of 239,000 listeners in its first three months of broadcasting.[170] RAJAR figures for the second quarter of 2022 showed the channel's listenership grew by a further 16%, to 277,000 listeners, making it the second-fastest-growing radio channel in the UK (behind the BBC World Service).[171] Subsequently, between July and September 2022, GB News Radio's weekly audience grew by 50%, to 415,000;[113] it was reported to be the only news radio channel to increase its audience during this period.[172][173]

According to an annual poll of 45,000 UK consumers by the market research company Savanta, in 2022 GB News was the nation's third 'most loved' news brand, behind The Guardian and Metro.[174] In the May 2023 survey, it was ranked as the UK's most-loved news brand, ahead of The Guardian and The Sun.[175][176] Savanta explained that the channel's high ranking was a result of its "Marmite" appeal, whereby its dedicated viewers are obsessively positive about the channel. Savanta explained that GB News "taps into a certain demographic's belief that mainstream media cannot be trusted".[177]

In December 2022, Press Gazette reported that GB News had beaten Sky News in primetime ratings over a 30-day period, with 57,107 viewers to Sky's 52,230. The channel remained behind Sky News for all-day viewership, but recorded a 48% increase in primetime viewers relative to the same period in 2021. The article also quoted a Christmas memo sent to staff by Frangopoulos, who said that 'In just 18 months you have worked as a team to end Sky News' undisputed 33-year reign as the most-watched commercial news channel in the United Kingdom'. Frangopoulos added that BARB figures showed the channel's fastest growing areas were in Red Wall regions across the north-east (+17% in Q4 so far), the north-west (+14%), and Yorkshire (+12%)'.[178]

In June 2023 at the TRIC Awards, GB News' Breakfast show won the Multichannel News Programme award and Nigel Farage won the News Presenter award.[179] Farage was booed by some members of the audience during his acceptance speech.[180][181] The event was sponsored by GB News along with businesses and several other media organisations.[182]

Criticisms

The Board of Deputies of British Jews and the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism have criticised broadcasts on GB News for what they feel to be promoting "conspiratorial antisemitism or other misinformation", particularly making note of some of Neil Oliver's broadcasts.[183] GB News have been accused of "demonising" transgender people by figures such as broadcaster India Willoughby.[184]

PinkNews and The Argus reported that social media users criticised an "alternative" BBC Match of the Day programme, aired on the channel on 11 March 2023, as being homophobic because it mocked Brighton and its LGBTQ+ community.[185][186] Alan Tyers of The Telegraph described the programme as an "orgy of inanity".[187] Ofcom received 222 complaints about the segment,[188][189] but decided not to investigate the incident.[190]

When reporting the October 2023 Gaza−Israel conflict a number of pro-Hamas terrorist group messages were read out on air by Nana Akua.[191] GB News apologised for the broadcast and confirmed that counter terrorism police were reviewing the footage.[191]

Ofcom investigations

Two of Mark Steyn's features on the channel breached standards regarding misinformation about COVID-19

Within the channel's first year Ofcom were prompted to launch five separate investigations into its broadcasts.[192] As of May 2023 more than 4,500 complaints about GB News programmes had been lodged with Ofcom since its launch.[193]

Ofcom received 373 complaints relating to a monologue made on the opening night's edition of Tonight Live with Dan Wootton in which Wootton argued against the government's extension of the COVID-19-related lockdowns in the UK.[194] Ofcom decided not to pursue any of the complaints, a spokesperson saying, "Our rules allow for rigorous debate around the response to coronavirus ... consistent with the right to free expression".[195]

Furthermore, Ofcom have publicly commented on and clarified rules on politicians presenting programmes following the influx of politicians to both TalkTV and GB News.[97]

As of October 2023 Ofcom have found GB News to have breached their licence on six separate occasions, five of those being considered as "significant", although the regulator did not impose any sanctions such as fines or a request for an on-air clarification.[193] 14 additional investigations are still pending.[11]

Breaches of code

On 7 November 2022, Ofcom announced its first finding against GB News, concluding that the channel breached its radio licence in an episode of To The Point on 2 March 2022. Covering the Erdington by-election, GB News displayed a graphic listing all candidates as required by Rules 6.8 to 6.12 of the Code. However, the presenters did not finish reading aloud the whole list, instead advising listeners on its radio simulcast that it was available on social media. All the candidates' names were therefore not read out in full for the channel's audio simulcast as required by rule 6.10. Ofcom issued no sanction against the channel.[196]

On 6 March 2023 Ofcom announced that it had found the Mark Steyn programme, aired on 21 April 2022, in breach of broadcasting rules for a materially misleading interpretation of official data about COVID-19.[81] In February 2023, Steyn revealed on his website that his GB News programme had been cancelled and that the channel had made an offer which he 'had to refuse' because it would have ended his 'right to free speech on air'.[197][198]

On 9 May 2023, Ofcom found that Mark Steyn breached standards on 4 October 2022.[199] The investigation into Steyn's programme on 4 October 2022 related to comments by Naomi Wolf, a figure who has previously been banned from Twitter for spreading anti-vaccine misinformation.[192] No sanctions were imposed, but following their investigation Ofcom arranged a meeting with GB News "to discuss its approach to compliance".[193]

In April 2023 Ofcom launched an investigation regarding a potential breach of impartiality rules during a programme broadcast on 11 March that was hosted by two Conservative MPs, Esther McVey and Philip Davies, where they interviewed a fellow Conservative MP, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, about his then imminent Spring Budget.[200] The programme was confirmed by Ofcom to be in breach of their regulations five months later.[201]

Ofcom decided that the 16 June broadcast featuring Martin Daubney breached due impartiality rules when interviewing Richard Tice about immigration, but Ofcom did not impose any further sanctions.[202] In response, GB News acknowledged that the content was non-compliant and stated that "[our staff] will receive further training focused on the issues raised by this broadcast".[203]

In December 2023 Ofcom ruled that the channel had breached impartiality rules with an episode of The Live Desk broadcast on 7 July 2023, which promoted its branded campaign "Don't Kill Cash".[204]

Other investigations

Misogynistic comments broadcast on the channel led to the suspension of Dan Wootton and the sacking of Laurence Fox (pictured) and Calvin Robinson

A broadcast on 4 April 2022 was looked into for a potential breach of "fairness" regulations regarding Russian war crimes in Ukraine, but was cleared.[192] Farage's 23 August 2021 broadcast was investigated for "offensive language" but was later cleared by the regulator.[192]

In July 2023 Ofcom launched an investigation regarding a potential breach of rules that prevent politicians from acting as newsreaders regarding a broadcast made by Conservative MP Rees-Mogg.[205] A further four investigations were launched the following month.[206]

On 27 September 2023 GB News suspended Laurence Fox and Dan Wootton and launched an internal investigation into their "totally unacceptable" misogynistic comments about a female journalist that were broadcast on the channel the night before.[207] Ofcom also launched an investigation into the incident after receiving more than 7,300 complaints.[208] Wootton's column with MailOnline had previously been paused regarding "a series of allegations", but DMG Media said "following events this week" (regarding the incident on GB News) that they had terminated his contract.[209] In support of the comments made on the channel, Calvin Robinson indicated that he would not be appearing on Wootton's scheduled show without Wootton.[210] Robinson was suspended on 29 September.[211] Chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos called the comments "appalling".[210] The following week Laurence Fox and Calvin Robinson were sacked by GB News.[212]

Ofcom decided not to pursue a full impartiality investigation into a broadcast by Lee Anderson on 29 September where he interviewed fellow Conversative, Suella Braverman, which had 1697 complaints.[202] On 23 October Ofcom announced that they were launching an investigation into the 23 June broadcast of Friday Morning with Esther and Philip.[213]

In February 2024 Ofcom cleared a broadcast by Neil Oliver where it was claimed that COVID-19 vaccines were linked to cases of turbo cancer, an anti-vax myth.[214]

On-air staff

Presenters
Reporters / editors
Former on-air staff

See also

References

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Footnotes

  1. ^ Ofcom describes GB News's licence type as editorial.

External links

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