Neil’s GB News channel suffers advertiser boycott
Andrew Neil launching GB News
Andrew Neil’s new television channel is facing an advertising boycott as numerous brands express concern over its editorial policy.
Ikea is the latest to join cider firm Kopparberg and Octopus Energy to withdraw their adverts on the GB News network following its launch on Sunday.
GB News, positioned as a rival to the rolling news and current affairs offerings by the BBC and Sky, is fronted by Mr Neil, the Scottish veteran broadcaster and newspaper editor who has gathered a team of experienced journalists promising to challenge the elite and the current “cancel culture”.
He said the channel would not be “another echo chamber for the metropolitan mindset that already dominates so much of the media”.
However, GB News has faced accusations it will be broadcasting US-style partisan news shows in the UK and campaign group Stop Funding Hate challenged advertisers on social media.
Swedish furniture giant Ikea said: “We are in the process of investigating how this may have occurred to ensure it won’t happen again in future, and have suspended paid display advertising in the meantime.”
Kopparberg said its adverts had been suspended “pending further review of its content”.
Octopus said it would only advertise with GB News if it proved to be “genuinely balanced”. The Open University also paused its advertising.
Mr Neil responded to Ikea’s announcement by sharing a story about the company’s French arm being fined and its CEO handed a two-year suspended sentence after it spied on employees for three years.
TV broadcaster Piers Morgan, who has been tipped for a role at GB News following his departure from Good Morning Britain, also responded critically to Ikea. He said: “Oh shut up, you pathetic virtue-signalling twerps. I’m now boycotting IKEA.”
GB News’ line-up includes former Sky Sports presenter Kirsty Gallacher, ex-BBC News 24 anchor Simon McCoy and former ITV presenter Alastair Stewart.
Mr Neil, a former BBC political interviewer and editor in chief at The Scotsman Publications, launched the channel with a pledge to “puncture the pomposity of our elites in politics, business, media and academia and expose the growing promotion of cancel culture for the threat to free speech and democracy that it is”.
The launch programme drew criticism for its production quality, one commentator saying this was one feature that compared it unfavourably with US stations.
“In the months leading up to the launch of Great Britain’s newest television channel, GB News, its backers insisted that it wouldn’t be a British version of Fox News,” wrote Helen Lewis, a London-based staff writer at The Atlantic.
“They were right in one way: Fox is a slick product with fancy studios and whizzy graphics. By contrast, when GB News went on the air Sunday night, it looked as though it had been filmed in an abandoned strip club—all dark walls and neon lights—and suffered from poorly synchronized sound.
Mr Neil, concluded an interview with the Scottish historian Neil Oliver, saying that he hoped to see Mr Oliver again, “and I promise [you] next time we’ll get you a better microphone.”