Rival news outlets are set to challenge the British media establishment, as the BBC comes under pressure after plans to censor patriotic songs at the Last Night of the Proms.
On Saturday, The Guardian reported that Ofcom, the UK’s official communications watchdog, had awarded “GB News” a licence to broadcast, with separate reports that the network will be aired on the UK’s free digital terrestrial television platform Freeview.
Columnist and former Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie, who reported the rumours a week before the story hit the establishment press, said that GB News would be “taking on the quite dreadful Sky News”, which is owned by American media company Comcast, which in turn owns the anti-Trump NBC news network.
GB News is said to be owned by All Perspectives, run by two Anglo-Americans associated with John Malone, the chairman of Liberty Global which owns Virgin Media. GB News cofounder Andrew Cole had called the BBC “possibly the most biased propaganda machine in the world”, and said his new media venture would be “distinctly different from the out-of-touch incumbents”. Mr Cole said that he would be revealing further details next month, with the channel airing in the New Year.
A source close to GB News told the Daily Mail on Sunday: “The channel will be a truly impartial source of news, unlike the woke, wet BBC. It will deliver the facts, not opinion dressed up as news.
“Everyone who works for GB News will have total commitment to quality journalism, to factual reporting, and to impartiality.”
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 30, 2020
Media are also reporting that there is another network in development, under the umbrella of Rupert Murdoch’s News UK and run in London by former Fox News executive David Rhodes. Speculated to be a “TV version of talkRADIO, talkSPORT, and Times Radio” — all of which are owned by News UK — it reportedly may bypass traditional television and be streamed on a service such as Netflix.
Both the News UK project and GB News are set to rival the liberal-progressive BBC and metropolitan-establishment Sky News, which currently dominate Britain’s news media.
The reports come as the BBC now faces pressure from MPs to reform and potentially scrap its TV tax funding model, amidst uproar over censoring the beloved patriotic songs “Rule, Britannia!” and “Land of Hope and Glory” at the Last Night of the Proms, the final show of eight weeks of orchestral performances over the summer, typically held in London’s Albert Hall.
Reportedly bowing to pressure from supporters of the Marxist Black Lives Matter movement, BBC Proms announced last week that it would be performing orchestral versions of the two pieces on the Last Night of the Proms on September 12th, without the lyrics. The executive producer of the BBC’s flagship Christian hymnal series Songs of Praise Cat Lewis then likened singing “Rule, Britannia!” to neo-Nazis singing about gas chambers.
Rule, Britannia! BBC Boss Compares Britons' Patriotism to Nazi Gas Chambers https://t.co/ndeG7yig7q
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 27, 2020
So out of touch is the BBC with the British public, that a recent poll revealed that just five per cent of Britons think that “Land of Hope and Glory” and “Rule, Britannia!” should be cancelled.
In fact, support for preserving Britain’s heritage was so great that a campaign led by actor Laurence Fox resulted in WW2 sweetheart Vera Lynn’s rendition of “Land of Hope and Glory” shooting up the charts to the Number One position on both Amazon UK and iTunes earlier this week.
In a letter to the new director-general of the BBC, over a dozen MPs warned Tim Davie that the broadcaster was “fundamentally failing” over its pledged political impartiality, and cited the Proms scandal as their most recent cause for concern, accusing the BBC of “censorship and historic apologism”.
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 26, 2020
“There is a distinct lack of impartiality in BBC reporting and commentary. From the frequent employment of former Labour activists, such as Lewis Goodall and Rianna Croxford, without equivalent Conservative representation; to the presentation of left-wing activists as regular, unaffiliated people in BBC News segments; to the episode of Panorama on PPE that even the BBC itself admits broke impartiality guidelines, the BBC’s recent output has not reported on or represented our national life,” the letter, seen by Guido Fawkes and published on Sunday, said.
The Telegraph also reported that Conservative ministers are expected to tell Mr Davie to scrap the mandatory licence fee by 2027, when the BBC’s charter is due for renewal. Anyone who watches live television must pay £157.50 a year to fund the BBC, even if the viewer does not consume any BBC media. The government is moving to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee; currently, one in 12 magistrates’ court cases is for non-payment of the TV tax.
A Whitehall source told the newspaper that decriminalisation was a “done deal”, and that the government was further behind moves to offer more broadcast licences to increase media choice.
“[Decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee] may be the least of the BBC’s worries. There is a real interest in levelling the playing field with more competition. Ofcom has already given a broadcasting licence to a proposed new channel, GB News, and that may be a sign of things to come,” the Whitehall source said.
A minister, meanwhile, also told The Telegraph that Davie is “open to the idea of a subscription model” for the BBC.
Outgoing BBC Boss: In Future, TV Tax Could be Compulsory for All https://t.co/l3RoYemAKX
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 27, 2020