Neil accuses boycott bosses of ‘bowing to pressure’
Andrew Neil: ‘not a scintilla of hate’
GB News chairman Andrew Neil has used an on-air bulletin to criticise companies and advertising agencies for withdrawing commercials from the new TV channel.
Grolsch, Ikea, Kopparberg, Octopus Energy and Nivea are among the brands that pulled or suspended adverts, claiming concerns over the channel’s editorial stance.
Today some indicated they would re-think their positions. Price comparison website Moneysupermarket tweeted: “Just to confirm that Moneysupermarket is not boycotting its advertising on GB News, sorry for any confusion caused.”
Furniture retailer Ikea and telecoms firm Vodafone also said they may resume advertising with the channel.
The boycott was associated with a campaign by the online group Stop Funding Hate (SFH) which Mr Neil has accused of peddling “woke nonsense”.
The row has erupted just days after GB News launched as an alternative to the round-the-clock news services provided by the BBC and Sky.
Some commentators claim it will be a UK version of Fox News, with a radical right-wing agenda.
Mr Neil gave his response during a Media Watch special, saying: “We ask companies boycotting GB News for peddling hate: what on earth are you talking about?”
Listing a series of stories the channel has covered from around the country since its launch on Sunday night, he said: “There isn’t a scintilla of hate in any of them.
“The only hate this channel has broadcast was when we showed film of a BBC Newsnight reporter being attacked by a baying anti-lockdown mob, and we condemn that unreservedly.”
He accused well-known brands of “bowing to pressure from a fringe group called Stop Funding Hate, a misnomer if ever there was one.”
He said: “It is quite remarkable that “serious important executives in well-established companies can be so easily cowed. They have all taken the knee to Stop Funding Hate.”
Mr Neil said SFH did not stand for a liberal, inclusive society but was “dominated by far left agitators and cranks.
“Through fear or ignorance some companies do as SFH bids. Woke nonsense has reached the boardroom and corporate capitalism is becoming the useful idiot of bigots bent on censorship.”
Mr Neil, a former editor of The Sunday Times and publisher of The Scotsman, said some ad agencies were responsible for pulling adverts from GB News, and urged the brands involved to “have a word” with them to risk doing huge harm.
He said the boycott can “work both ways” and that GB News viewers were “incensed” with advertisers that have “taken against us for no reason”. Many have written to these advertisers to tell them so, he said.
He added that “not a single example of hate has been given to justify the boycott of this channel.”
He invited bosses with concerns about the channel to discuss them on air.