Monday, July 4

GB News, the new British TV in the style of Fox News and eager to expand in Europe

When GB News began broadcasting at 8:00 p.m. last Sunday, viewers were able to immerse themselves for the first time in an uninterrupted news channel about American-style current affairs and the campaign against young progressives. But the channel’s directors are desperate to avoid comparison: please don’t compare us to Fox News.

“We will embrace the humor of the country and of the communities that feel that their voices have not been heard by mainstream media,” says Angelos Frangopoulos, the Australian media executive. hired to launch the channel. “We are just being honest with the stories that people want to talk about.”

Channel staff suggest that “the stories that people want to talk about” will be primarily issues of the so-called “culture war” that the Boris Johnson government is tackling with increasing vigor, ranging from the question of whether English footballers They should kneel in the face of racism, transgender rights and COVID restrictions.

GB News employees were also told that the target audience is “rational and civic centrists”, who feel that BBC News it has lost its way and that certain issues can no longer be discussed without being covered by controversy. The programs will try to be “warmer” and more positive about both the future of the UK and the impact of capitalism.

Consequently, the channel has discarded the traditional newscasts and instead has opinion programs directed by presenters. Instead of following the BBC and Sky News in an attempt to get to the scene first, presenters like Andrew Neil, Kirsty Gallacher and Alastair Stewart discuss news that was first in other media, to create easily editable segments that can go viral on social networks.

Neil’s program includes a section called “Woke Watch“, which will highlight alleged examples of political correctness taken to the extreme, and “Media Watch“, which will monitor alleged left-wing biases in the media. Topics debated for the debut have included the question of whether education against unconscious biases really serves to combat racism. The channel claims not to have a specific political orientation, but has hired former candidates from the far-right Brexit party as presenters.

A small niche

“Is there a niche in the market? Yes, a small one. No one has ever played by the rules that mandate fairness in business before. television news“says Jamie McGowan Stuart, an analyst at media consultancy Enders Analysis.” But in purely business terms, it’s very difficult. If they can achieve their ambitious goals, they will hardly make a profit. ”

Those involved in the launch suggest that a more accurate comparison than that of Fox News would be the show Good morning britain when Piers Morgan was the presenter, for his ability to address particularly contentious issues that would inevitably spark day-long debates on social media. Morgan, who left ITV earlier this year after refusing to apologize for her comments on Meghan Markle, declined the opportunity to join GB News.

Now, one of the biggest concerns among GB News staff is the future of the channel. His quickly built studio in London’s Paddington Basin uses advanced technology and many employees have relatively little experience. The £ 25 million a year budget is low compared to other news channels. Channel sources have said that Neil, used to working with a BBC studio team, has been particularly stressed during “bizarre” rehearsals and fears his show is always riddled with technical glitches.

(The first week of issuance has been so marked by technical problems that it already exists until a Twitter account dedicated to them).

One of the ironies of GB News is that it is a channel funded by wealthy elites who believe there is a niche in the market for programs that go against cultural elites who impose their views on ordinary British citizens. Its biggest sponsors are the television group Discovery; Legatum, the Dubai hedge fund, and Sir Paul Marshall, the head of the hedge funds that financed Brexit, who happens to be the father of the Mumford & Sons bassist. Among the news channel’s minor investors anti-establishment are Lord Farmer and Lord Spencer, both former Treasurers of the Conservative Party.

Neil, the president and main presenter of GB News, who officially resides in France, is also the editor of the magazine Spectator. At the FT Future event, he said GB News’s stance on culture will be insurgent: “The fire was stoked by the warriors of awareness (‘woke warriors‘) and by the established means that are on your side. We will only be an opposition voice that will give another point of view. ”

Looking for subscribers

While the publicity will bring in some money, the ultimate goal will be to convince a relatively small group of fans to pay for a subscription to an app that allows them to watch the shows and communicate with the hosts. If this is successful, the intention will be to replicate the format with versions of the channel throughout Europe. GB News’ digital radio channel is expected to launch next month.

“This is a mass-reach television-powered digital business,” says Frangopoulos, the channel’s chief executive. “We try to create engaging digital content, to engage with audiences across the UK.”

Contrary to popular belief, there are no legal requirements for radio and television operators to offer the same amount of time on their programs to all parties in the political debate. GB News will simply need to ensure that its broadcasts comply with the Office of Communications’ standards for fairness. This would allow presenters to express their views on the culture war, as long as the audience sees the alternative points of view later.

Stop Funding Hate, a group that campaigns on Twitter To put pressure on right-wing media by targeting their advertisers, it has already launched a campaign against the channel. “GB News may try to untag Fox News – but be ‘woke‘(conscientious) means to be anti-racist, then by identifying itself as a television channel’anti-woke‘They seem to make their intentions pretty clear, “he says.

Advertisers like Ikea they have already withdrawn their campaigns because they say television conflicts with their “values.”

Translated by Ignacio Rial-Schies