ANDREW Neil’s right-wing GB News channel is set to launch tomorrow night on our TV screens – but what should we expect?
The Scottish journalist and broadcaster is one of the big names behind the new start up, which has recently revealed it will also launch a national radio service as early as next month.
With the main channel set to launch at 8pm tomorrow, The National has taken a deep dive into what we know about it all so far.
Firstly, who owns it? The company behind GB News is registered with Companies House as All Perspectives Ltd. Strange, considering it only seems to be one right-wing anti-woke perspective that it intends to peddle to viewers.
But, that isn’t all – there are a staggering eight men registered as directors for the channel, and not a single woman.
Those men are Andrew Cole, James T’Sung Jen Gibbons, Anil Kumar Jhingan, Sir Paul Roderick Clucas Marshall, Alan McCormick, Andrew Ferguson Neil, Mark Lyle Schneider and Mark Stoleson.
It’s interesting that the youngest director, McCormick, is only 47, which means GB News could be targeting that very underserved demographic of over-45 males.
But it isn’t just the Companies House details that can give us an insight into what we should expect, as there have been plenty of press releases of “top talent” taking on new jobs and the like, so what can we gather from that? Clearly Neil is going to be the captain of the ship, holding court during the prime time viewing slot as part of the 6500 hours of programming planned.
His first mate? A toss-up between Daily Mail columnist (and former executive editor at The Sun) Dan Wootton, who trades on inflammatory opinion pieces about the royals, and has a particular penchant for Harry and Meghan, or former ITV stalwart Alastair Stewart with his cosily named show Alastair Stewart and Friends.
Or could it be fellow Scot and pro-Union diehard Neil Oliver? The TV historian has inventively named his show Neil Oliver Live, you can see they have had to think very hard about what to call these groundbreaking shows.
Oliver recently said he had always been apolitical, but that changed during lockdown – which he dubbed the “biggest single mistake in world history”. With on point historical analysis like that, we can only dream of the content Oliver is drumming up right now, but whether or not it will be accurate remains to be seen. Any claims of political neutrality were scuppered by joining a channel whose aesthetic appears to be designed around the colour scheme of the Union Jack. They are not as subtle as they like to think.
What other notable names are joining the channel? Former Sky Sports News host Kirsty Gallacher will be taking on the morning slot for The Great British Breakfast. It may as well have been called The Fry Up if it truly wanted to draw in its target audience.
Gallacher will be joined by former Sky presenter Darren McCaffrey and Euro News host Rosie Wright, and other journalists have flocked from the BBC, STV and Sky to take up spots on the channel.
The other big hitters? Former BBC anchor Simon McCoy was a big fish for the channel, but will his dry sense of humour and witty retorts to the bizarre moments that inevitably arise during live broadcasting have a home on GB News? Part of the draw was that McCoy would end up in giggles during bulletins that are typically very straight to the point. With GB News, it is doubtful that they will play it straight, and McCoy’s quips may feel out of place in the echo chamber that GB News is destined to become.
And, what about Scotland? The channel has said their output will be “much more broadly reflective of what the country actually is” by looking outwith London. But there hasn’t been any mention of a Scotland Correspondent, or jobs advertised anywhere outside of London. So, it may be that Scotland gets mentioned, but I would put money on it being a pop at the SNP or any discussion of an independence referendum.
It’s pretty clear that any and all coverage of Scotland will come through the funnel of a Unionist perspective. It may be hoping to cover news outside of London, but all roads will lead back to Westminster and the monarchy.
So, what can we look forward to? Not much. The channel is trying to pitch itself as revolutionary, anti-woke, and digging its heels deep into a perceived culture war. It describes itself in pristine press releases as “a new approach to news, opinion and debate, sharing the stories that matter to you and everyone in the UK”.
But in reality, it’s probably just going to be a bunch of old men shouting into an empty room.
A truly revolutionary act would be to launch a left-wing news channel, in the style of CNN or similar, because as we all know, the UK press pretty much entirely caters to right-wing rhetoric in most of our newspapers, radio stations and TV channels.
GB News won’t be any different.