Neil eyes Morgan for GB News as ITV’s value dented
Piers Morgan with former co-presenter Susanna Reid (pic: ITV)
Piers Morgan was being tipped to join Andrew Neil’s GB News channel as the controversial host’s departure from Good Morning Britain was partly blamed for wiping almost £200 million from the value of ITV.
Mr Morgan left the breakfast programme after stating he did not believe the Duchess of Sussex’s claims about feeling suicidal which she made during her televised interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Following an on-screen argument with GMB weatherman Alex Beresford, Mr Morgan walked off set. Later it was announced he had quit.
On Wednesday the broadcaster’s share price slumped by 3.8% as analysts pondered the impact of his departure on advertising revenue if ratings fall. Mr Morgan has been credited with lifting ratings to record highs. His latest comments helped GMB achieve better ratings than rival BBC Breakfast for the first time.
Andrew Neil: Morgan would be ‘huge asset’
Mr Neil admitted he could be interested in hiring the outspoken presenter, though not in the same role.
He said Mr Morgan would be a “huge asset” for the new anchor-led channel.
“Could we find a role for Piers Morgan? Of course we could – any network worth its salt could find a role for a broadcaster of his calibre,” said Mr Neil who left the BBC last year under a cloud.
Mr Morgan, however, hinted that he may join Sky News, when he responded to a question about his future by saying: “What’s the Sky money like at the moment?” before bursting out laughing.
The row erupted after he told viewers on Monday that he “didn’t believe a word” of Ms Markle’s comments.
“I wouldn’t believe it if she read me a weather report,” he said during the show which drew a combined worldwide audience of 49 million, including 13 million in Britain. It has been licensed in more than 80 other countries.
His comments were criticised for being insensitive and prompted 41,000 complaints to Ofcom, which launched an investigation.
However, more than 80,000 viewers have signed online petitions demanding ITV reinstates the controversial host.
He tweeted that he had not changed his opinion on Ms Markle and that “freedom of speech is a hill I’m happy to die on”. He said he would be “spending more time with his opinions”.
Buckingham palace responded on Tuesday with a short statement saying the Royal Family was ‘saddened’ to learn of Harry and Meghan’s struggles.
The statement said that ‘the issues raised, especially that of race, are “concerning”, but added that “recollections may vary” about the events described.
Editors’ chief quits
The executive director of the Society of Editors has resigned after issuing a statement seeking to absolve the British news industry of bigotry.
Ian Murray said he must “take the blame” following heavy criticism of the industry body.
He had said it was “not acceptable” for Harry and Meghan to make claims of racism in the press “without supporting evidence”, adding that the press in the UK was not racist.
Mr Murray said the comment was “not intended to gloss over the fact the media industry in the UK does have work to do on inclusivity and diversity.”
He said: “While I do not agree that the Society’s statement was in any way intended to defend racism, I accept it could have been much clearer in its condemnation of bigotry and has clearly caused upset.
“As executive director I lead the Society and as such must take the blame and so I have decided it is best for the board and membership that I step aside so that the organisation can start to rebuild its reputation.”
Mr Murray said he was stepping aside “with a heavy heart” adding he is “proud” of the SoE’s work “defending media freedom over the three years I have been at the helm as well as the initiatives we have created and continue to create on diversity in the newsroom”.
The editors of the Guardian and HuffPost UK previously issued statements saying they did not agree with the Society of Editors’ position.
Guardian News and Media editor-in-chief Katharine Viner said on Tuesday: “Every institution in the United Kingdom is currently examining its own position on vital issues of race and the treatment of people of colour.”
ITV News presenter Charlene White said she would not host this year’s Society of Editors’ Press Awards because of the row over the comments on Meghan and Harry’s interview.