With the ambition to shake up a well-intentioned British audiovisual scene with firm opinions, GB News launched on Sunday. “Welcome to the launch of GB News, the British news channel designed to give a voice to those who have felt left out or even silenced in our great national debates,” announced at exactly 9:00 pm in Switzerland) host Andrew Neil, star of the British audiovisual and president of the new channel.
Killer of the “culture of cancellation” that would forbid conservative voices and “awakening” to speak – this awareness of injustices particularly related to skin color or gender – the first news channel to start in the Kingdom United for two decades claims to address a large audience. Including those who voted for Brexit in 2016 and are seen as forgotten by traditional channels often criticized for being too focused on London’s cosmopolitan elite.
Great figures in the British media
This newcomer to the small screen, wrapped in the red, white and blue of the Union Jack, hopes to become “the news channel of the United Kingdom”, although it competes directly with the private channel Sky News and the British public. the broadcasting giant BBC.
Unlike the latter, it will not offer newspapers but talk shows run by presenters with strong opinions.
“Our presenters will have the freedom to speak their minds, have fun and be brave on the issues that really matter to British people,” News and Programming Director John McAndrew said in a statement.
GB News has managed to attract some great British media figures like Andrew Neil -fort in his 25 years of scathing interviews with the BBC and his past as editor at the sunday time– but he also wants to be innovative with a team of 140 London-based journalists.
He declined to be compared to Fox News.
“We are committed to covering the agenda of the people, not the media,” insisted Andrew Neil in his opening speech, promising not to echo the “metropolitan mindset” and the “bubble.” Westminster, too often obsessed with issues that are of no importance to others. “
Since the announcement of its creation, the channel has been accused of being a clone of the American tabloid channel Fox News that wants to feed a cultural divide already deeply furrowed by the powerful British tabloids. In addition to its format, its promise to address an audience disappointed with the BBC and to feel underrepresented in the Brexit debate, draws comparisons to the US channel, which attracts viewers hostile to politics and mainstream media.
Andrew Neil dismisses a “simplistic and inaccurate” analysis: “In terms of format, we look like Fox, but we will not be like Fox as long as they come from a hard right that supports an agenda of conspiracy and misinformation.”
GB News CEO Angelos Frangopoulos, who prepared Fox-like programming when he ran Sky News Australia, also rebutted the description of GB News as a right-wing equivalent of the BBC.
Fear of hostile debates against social justice activists
For Jane Martison, professor of journalism at the City University of London, the atmosphere before this release is one of “some hysteria on both sides.” “Some say it is Fox, while the channel has not been launched yet, so let’s wait and see,” he told Agence France Presse (AFP). “On the other hand, if you criticize the channel, they accuse you of being part of the liberal intelligentsia, which is a simplistic and somewhat hostile argument.”
According to the professor, GB News will not be able to reproduce Fox News, due to “the fairness rules” of Ofcom, the British audiovisual gendarme, but “it will be very interesting to see how the established rules develop.”
Des Freedman, a professor at Goldsmith University in London, fears that this new channel will invite discussions of ideas hostile to those of social justice activists on television, as is already the case in many British tabloids. “It will not be ‘breaking news’,” he said, “it will be discussions on sofas, dominated by people with a very strong point of view on freedom of expression and the idea that we are in the middle of a culture war.”
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