It’s safe to say that during the last six months that GB News has been airing for, it hasn’t gone unnoticed. If anything, their arrival to British television on 13th June 2021 was met with plenty of intrigue and wonder if they would be able to steal away some of the audience that the big hitters of BBC and Sky News both obtain.
With the likes of Andrew Neil, Simon McCoy, Colin Brazier alongside Alistair Stewart and Dan Wooton with former Labour MP Gloria Del Peiro and Nancy Muroki also getting involved, with a host of other names including Kirsty Gallacher and Michelle Dewberry, it seemed that GB News was aiming to bring in big names who could speak their mind without any fear or having a level to tone down to.
It must be said that when the channel began airing at 8pm on 13th June 2021 with Andrew Neil explaining what the channel would be about, there was intrigue, to say the least. He introduced the viewers to the new cast and crew amid a few technological problems including lack of sound and a bit of a weird background set.
But like many others including myself, we took the mishaps with a pinch of salt expecting that it is not going to be perfect on the first day. After all, Rome, like London, Paris and Berlin was not built in a day. Establishing a new channel was always going to take time.
For its first week, the channel averaged at fifty thousand viewers, which was reportedly behind its BBC and Sky competitors, who were reaching over one hundred thousand and over fifty thousand respectively. Additionally, since then GB News has reportedly fallen to twenty-one thousand viewers per month.
In all of this on Twitter, there were a number of threatened boycotts from those on the left side of politics to companies who had adverts running on the channel during its breaks. This was criticised by then-Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden who spoke against the small vocal minority on Twitter led by Stop Funding Hate who were the group responsible for promoting such a boycott of brands including Vodafone, Ikea, Nivea and Specsavers who were among the large companies buying advertising space on the channel.
Neil however, despite being seen as the face of the programme at its launch, would stop playing a part in the development of the channel as he went on an initial break over the summer before leaving the channel for good in September. Since his departure, he has spoken of his regret in being involved with the channel.
However, in return of the departure of Neil from the channel, it has given precedence to former-UKIP and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage to come in and boost the channels somewhat deteriorating viewing figures.
This being proven in November that Farage’s 7pm programme slot was actually beating the competition from the BBC and Sky according to Guido Fawkes.
In December 2021, Farage went one step bigger than seen before on the channel by interviewing former-US president Donald Trump in a programme that saw a reported one hundred and ninety thousand viewers tune in to hear what the former Republican president had to say about the world in its various forms.
It could be said that the success of the interview was helped by Farage’s friendliness to the former president, who didn’t rule out standing again in time for 2024 as the Republican candidate against Joe Biden who looks likely to stay on and fight for a second term in the White House.
In recent weeks, Eamonn Holmes has joined GB News with his own breakfast slot from 6:30 to 9am every morning with Isabel Webster accompanying him on the sofa. Safe to say it will be interesting to see how Holmes does after having been warming the This Morning sofas for over 15 years with wife Ruth Langsford on Fridays and half term holidays in absence of Phillip Scofield and Holly Willoughby.
Holmes brings a massive reputation of journalistic experience to the already vastly experienced team at GB News and his arrival to our screens this coming week looks to be interesting as he looks to spark new life into the weekday morning slot once more whilst the likes of Tom Harwood continue to improve upon their journalistic development via the channel.
With GB News set to introduce a concurring radio station as well this coming week alongside its TV programmes, the channel clearly wants to break into a potentially different audience that it wouldn’t usually get watching their content.
Furthermore, with a host of new names including the likes of Darren Grimes and Calvin Robinson also being introduced to the line-up over the course of 2022, it is fair to say that, whilst it may not always beat its competitors in the BBC and Sky every second of the day, the content will be different, unique and quite different to what is produced on the BBC and Sky News channels.
I want to answer is GB News a right-wing populist channel or is it just a typical new news channel of its time? The answer in my view is that whilst it does try to have a populist feeling in its content, its nowhere near the elitist standard that the BBC and Sky tend to aim for in its programming. However, compared to what is available with news channels in the UK, it does tick the box for being non-elitist and rather pro-populist despite a vast amount of experience in its ranks from Nigel Farage to Eamonn Holmes.
The last six months have been challenging for GB News. There is no two ways about it, but the next six months and beyond look to be encouraging and I’m sure that in time, whilst the channel may not always pick up the top viewing figures it may desire, its likely to secure a regular hardcore fanbase who tune in regardless.
With the early days leaving a lot to have been desired, the channel has picked itself up. Seen what has worked and what hasn’t worked and that in itself will make itself stronger going forward. I’m certain of it. These things just take time. Time they’ve got as no channel was ever perfect in the first few months of its transmission history.