GB News, the beginning of the end for the BBC? – Conservative Article
On June 13th, Andrew Neil launched his brand-new news channel GB News to the British public. He set the tone of what the channel is hoping to achieve during his opening monologue, which I would highly recommend you watch to get a feel for the channel.
During its first few hours, the channel managed to have a greater audience share than BBC News and Sky. Albeit this audience share measurement was only of news channels. Overall, the BBC had the greatest audience share across all of its channels on Sunday evening.
This does beg the question though, does GB News have a chance at permanently taking the top spot as the most-watched news channel?
Andrew Neil has proclaimed that GB News will broadcast debates and news stories on the topics that the people are interested in hearing. The aim is to move away from cancel culture and Westminster-based gossip, with Neil saying that “if it matters to you, it matters to us.”
I believe that this new news outlet has the potential to become quite a significant force if the current MSM does not alter its ways. As we have seen in the 2019 UK general election – and more recently in the May 2021 local elections – the country has had a very firm shift to blue.
The reasons for this shift are numerous; I have explained some of the new votes for the Conservatives here, and it appears that GB News is capitalising on the current hostile environment we find ourselves in amongst cancel culture, woke ideology, and anti-UK discourse.
I do not necessarily believe that the Conservatives are suddenly the party of the everyday person, usurping the traditional Labourites as the defenders of the working people. Instead, it appears the modern left rhetoric seems to be actively pushing people away from voting Labour. I believe the creation of GB News is a manifestation of this shift.
Over recent years the creation and rise of many streaming services have impacted traditional TV viewing as it is. Whilst TV viewership still dominates over streaming services, there is a clear shift towards streaming services. Not only do more people pay for subscription streaming services than pay-TV, but the number of people who watch broadcast TV, in general, has also declined.
The BBC has seen its viewership gradually decline. This can be attributed to the fact that the BBC is failing to attract younger viewers. On top of this, its audience share decreased by 3% between 2008 and 2019, whilst ITV’s audience share remained the same.
The BBC has also been losing the trust of the British public as various scandals and coverups have been revealed over the past decade. Some of the most influential of these have been the failure to prevent the Jimmy Savile attacks, the BBC coverage of the police raid of Cliff Richards house, and most recently the Princess Diana – Martin Bashir interview.
The three mentioned examples are all abhorrent for different reasons and shall not be forgotten by the British public quickly. Such abuses of trust in journalism should not be forgotten. On the flip-side, despite only being on the air for several days now, GB News has had some controversy of its own.
Since launching, many of the companies that decided to advertise on GB News have indefinitely ended advertising of the channel after severe backlash on social media. The two biggest companies to have reneged on their advertising are IKEA and Kopparberg. The decisions to stop advertising on GB News have themselves created more social media backlash, with calls for people to boycott the companies.
Whether you agree with the companies’ decisions or not, one thing is for sure – they have inadvertently drawn more attention to the channel for their actions than they clearly anticipated (or wanted). As a result, GB News has been trending on Twitter as people discuss whether what the companies did was the correct decision.
For a channel that wishes to open up debates and uphold free speech, several companies do not seem to like GB News, which is interesting. The most amusing of the boycotts has come from the organisation, Stop Funding Hate, which was trying to boycott the channel months before it aired for the first time.
In times like this, I feel that we need greater freedom of speech. It is utterly bamboozling that anyone can justify themselves boycotting a new channel before it has even aired: before it has had the chance to say anything. Such a belief is beyond bigoted. How can you be intolerant to alternative opinions, like Stop Funding Hate is, if you do not even allow them to be expressed in the first place? Madness and dangerous in my opinion.
Overall, I believe the creation of GB News is a good thing. The MSM has been abusing its journalistic powers and abusing the trust of the people whilst neglecting the values that organisations such as the BBC were built upon. Irrelevant news articles and obvious bias have been slowly putting off viewers. Now that there is a new channel in town, these people have a new place to get their news from.
As outlined earlier, the BBC still holds a majority of audience share across its channels, but the fact this single new channel was able to steal a greater percentage share than BBC News itself speaks volumes. If this is the end of the BBC, it is the beginning of a slow and steady decline whilst newer outlets, such as streaming services and GB News, begin to grow.
Ironically, I have used several BBC articles as evidence in this article, which shows that although the BBC may be in decline, it is still influential and will probably still be around for a while to come. That is, if it will come to an end at all.
Written by Deputy Chief of Conservatives, Peter Pearce
Point of Information
GB News is a Con Through and Through – A Labour Response
What an exciting time to be alive! Instead of scrolling through Twitter all day engaging with the endless shouting match about the woke mob, we can tune in our TV and have the same experience right in the comfort of our living rooms! The woke-lefty-biased BBC is finally finished!
The launch of GB News was certainly a loud and annoying affair, as every Tory pundit hailed it as the second coming. All shows debut with high numbers; however, it’s unlikely that GB News can sustain those figures as the evenings go on. It didn’t even manage to shake BBC News at 10, which had a 30.6% TV share that evening.
My colleague’s claim that the “success” of GB news is a part of a greater blue shift in politics is mostly unfounded. GB News’ audience was, by majority male, old, and rich. It’s easy to come to Peter’s conclusion when retired voters and the rich gave the Conservatives their majority in 2019, not the working class. The scary headlines about the woke mob will entice viewers, but it’s mostly a farce. Real people day today think that being described as “woke” is a compliment and aren’t equipped at all with terms like “cancel culture” and “identity politics”
These terms have very little meaning to people who don’t already engage with this type of thinking. GB News is reaching exactly who it was intended for. Those who think that they know how the world works and seek to have their viewpoint reaffirmed.
BBC viewership is in decline, however, this is a part of a much larger trend with TV. Despite this, faith in the channel is still strong. 70% of people find the channel trustworthy and 90% still use the BBC in some capacity. While this data did come before recent scandals it is clear that the BBC can weather anything thrown at it.
GB News probably knows it can’t break the BBC; turning a profit on an ad-based news channel is near impossible anyway. Sky News itself operates at a loss of about £40 million a year. Ultimately, it might not even matter if anyone watches GB News. The backers of the channel have no experience with news broadcasts and instead have spent millions pushing a hard Brexit and normalising Neoliberal economic policies.
The channel is a political project through and through. As my colleague talks about the online controversies of the channel, the main goal of GB News may just be to rile up a core of diehard fans to post sound bytes to Twitter all day.
Peter demonstrates a very one-way view of free speech; that everyone has to listen to whatever drivel some demagogue comes up with and if anyone interjects it’s literally 1984. Freedom of speech is freedom for people to protest. Groups have every right to call for a boycott of the channel, that’s not intolerance, that’s free speech. If you’re calling for groups to be silenced to “protect” alternative opinions like GB News then the only one against free speech is yourself.
Frankly, I’m a little sick of the right-wing crying about the BBC and its “bias”. Some Tories need to grow up. A presenter snickering at a preposterously large flag in a minister’s background is not a reason to throw out the entire news channel. In fact, it’s a little insulting considering how the BBC photoshopped Jeremy Corbyn into Moscow’s Red Square and called his broadband policies “Communism.”
Regardless of how I feel towards these incidents, I do believe that the BBC, overall, benefits our society. A public, non-profit body can overcome the dishonesty and creaming of the market that is all too common for profit-driven news. Peter can decry this work as irrelevant, but I feel I learn a lot more watching the opening of the News at 10 than I would by watching thousands of hours of Andrew Neil’s “Wokewatch”.
The angry old men can have GB News and stay in their echo chambers. The rest of us can have a good laugh watching presenters say “Mike Hunt” on the air or when panelists explain how Jefferey Epstein technically wasn’t a pedophile. I think the BBC will come out on top in the end. But we should all remember who is pushing GB News and for what purpose.
Written by Junior Labour Writer, Joseph McLaughlin
GB News? More like GB’s Entertainment – A Liberal Response
GB News will not, in any way, shape, or form, overtake the BBC in the next few years—as a news channel at least. The views per night on GB’s top shows have been estimated to stabilize at around 100,000. The BBC averages around 5 million. A poor comparison to say the least.
The controversy surrounding advertising may bring initial increases in viewership. Although large businesses such as IKEA have boycotted GB News, this may not have as much effect as they think. If anything, GB News, as professional provocateurs, will thrive off of this controversy—cue moans of ‘cancel culture’. Still, this does not mean the channel is going to be an inevitable success.
Crucially, not all of GB News’ first views are going to be from people who genuinely like the network. Many may have tuned in out of pure interest, or even for a bit of ironic fun. In any case, we will have to wait a few weeks to know the real viewership projections. Comparisons of GB’s initial numbers to the BBC’s long-standing viewer base are premature.
In general, Joseph has made a very convincing case that GB News will remain on the sidelines of reporting. As it should. However, the channel has one redeeming quality.
It is an unintentional comedy goldmine.
Of course, there is the content itself. Alongside the farcical Jeffrey Epstein justification, Neil’s interview with Rishi Sunak regarding the G7 is a great case in point. Straight off the bat, Andrew criticises Sunak about what he perceives to be Boris’ ‘woke’ pledge to ‘build back in a more feminine and gender-neutral way’. Sunak was left stuttering, but it’s such a ridiculous question that Rishi’s disbelief is completely understandable. It’s almost as if the channel is a satire of itself. For Neil to stoop so low in his career is either duplicitous or comedic genius.
Then there are the continual technical errors. Every channel, including the BBC, inevitably has problems such as these when they start out. However, what makes the whole thing so hilarious is how seriously the presenters take themselves, despite their whole platform being a bit of a meme.
This has made rich pickings for pranksters. Simon McCoy raged as GB news’ broadcast was inundated by commenters called ‘Hugh Janus’. More recently, Adam Pacitti subtly mooned the outspoken ‘free-speech warrior’ Laurence Fox on Dan Wootton’s show. Childish humour? Perhaps. But these stunts, and the praise they gained, speak volumes about how few take the site seriously.
Joseph is entirely right in pinpointing GB News’ audience though. As Tom Peck correctly notes, ‘It’s there to wind up the right by caricaturing the left’—for serious viewers at least. Many Britons just simply do not care for this Fox-esque mockery of a news site. Andrew Neil should take the hint.
Written by Chief Liberal Writer, Frank Allen
I am going into my second year at the University of Exeter studying a flexible combined honour in Geography and Politics. My interest in politics and geography stems from an interest in current events and the wider world, with geography being the study of all world processes.
Politics was a completely taboo subject for me as a young boy. Having lived almost all my life in Brunei and Qatar – two very strict, theocratic autocracies – I was cautious to keep my opinions well-guarded. The smallest negative remark about either country’s governance, for example, would’ve meant deportation for my family and I. Any non-approved political activity, no matter how naïve, had to be kept a secret. It was best not to question at all.