Anti-Woke GB News Tops Ratings on Launch, Beats BBC, Has Triple the Views of Sky

People leave the BBC building, in the corporation's West London headquarters, 21 March 2005.
CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty

The self-described right-leaning and anti-woke British news channel GB News netted more viewers than main competitors Sky News and BBC News on its launch, having ratings of almost triple that of Sky.

GB News went live on Sunday night, and between 7 pm and 11 pm, garnered 164,400 viewers — more than BBC News’s 133,000 views and just 57,000 people who tuned into Sky News, according to BARB data reported by City A.M. 

Launching the channel last night, the broadcaster’s chairman and former BBC veteran Andrew Neil said GB News would be “dedicated to covering the news that matters to you, and to giving the voice to those who felt sidelined or even silenced in our great national debates”.

“GB News will not slavishly follow the existing news agenda”, Mr Neil claimed, saying the programmes will cover agendas that “matter to you and others are neglecting”.

Neil took aim at the establishment media and liberal elites that form its narratives, saying: “We are committed to covering the people’s agenda — not the media’s agenda. We will not lecture you or talk down… GB News will not be yet another echo chamber for the metropolitan mindset that already dominates so much of our media. It is our explicit aim to empower those who feel their stories, their opinions, their concerns have been ignored or diminished.”

Targeting the rise of cancel culture and the risk it poses, Neil said: “We will puncture the pomposity of our elites in politics, business, media, and academia and expose their growing promotion of cancel culture for the threat to free speech and democracy that it is.”

GB News is reportedly already in dispute with the media establishment, having made a complaint to Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, on the grounds that the BBC, Sky, and ITN were allegedly involved in blocking their access to “pool” footage — coverage filmed by the three large media networks shared amongst competitors to cut down on the number of reporters needed to cover major events.

The Telegraph reports that GB News had a deal with Reuters for access to footage taken by the Comcast-owned Sky News, ITN (the ITV news network), and the BBC, but Neil’s network claimed the competitors had applied pressure to block the deal.

In writing to Ofcom and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, GB News claimed that the alleged interference by competitors was “an abuse of their collective dominant position”.

“If it is the case that UK pool members are conspiring to disrupt our clients’ entry to the UK news broadcasting market [this would be] wholly contrary to … fair and effective competition,” lawyers for the fledgling broadcaster added. Spokesmen for ITV and the BBC have since told The Telegraph that they were in talks with GB News to discuss licencing arrangements.

Meanwhile, the UK government is looking to force tech companies, like Samsung and Amazon, to give more prominence on their platforms to so-called ‘public broadcasters’ like the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4.

The BBC has come under criticism in recent weeks over findings of its handling of the Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales, where journalist Martin Bashir had used fake bank statements to gain access to the Princess of Wales. Home Secretary Priti Patel said that the broadcaster’s reputation had been “highly damaged”, with Tory MP Jonathan Gullis calling for a referendum on defunding the BBC.

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