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  • Lily Meckel

GB News and talkTV: Opinionated News Arrives in the UK

GB News and talkTV are two new TV channels in the United Kingdom. They are seen as the British equivalent of the popular conservative US channel Fox News. Their announcement and launch have been nervously anticipated and controversial, due to their potential ability to stir up the media landscape. So, who are they, and why are they so controversial? This cheat sheet will provide answers.

GB News

Who owns GB News and talkTV?

GB News, a 24-hour right-wing news channel, was launched in June of 2021. It was founded by Andrew Cole and Mark Schneider, who are both associated with US billionaire John Malone, and is owned by All Perspectives Ltd. Most of the people behind the channel are based outside of the UK. The CEO is the former head of Sky News Australia, Angelos Frangopoulos, who shifted the channel’s nighttime reporting towards right-wing Fox-style coverage, and away from its day-time balanced news coverage.

talkTV is owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s News UK, which is part of the multinational conglomerate News Corp that owns Fox News in the United States, amongst other right-wing news outlets worldwide. This channel replaced the idea of the TV channel, News UK TV, which was scrapped after being deemed not economically viable, instead opting for the launch of talkTV, a streaming service forming part of Murdoch’s quest to create opinion-oriented news channels. It is set to launch at the start of 2022 and will air in the United Kingdom, as well as on streaming services in Australia and the United States.

Click to see our Cheat Sheet, UK Media: Who Owns Who?

What are their aims?

Both GB News and talkTV emerged as ideas to counter established British news channels such as BBC and Sky, as according to the owners, creators, and contributors of both platforms, these channels are biased and out of touch. Their goal is to introduce more opinion-based news and challenge the status quo of the media.

GB News has been labelled as a British equivalent to Fox News in the US, which is a right-wing partisan news channel and part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. This channel similarly broadcasts opinionated news, which is new to British television. It accuses channels like the BBC of being too London-oriented and biased towards liberal views and thus states it wants to change the face of news and debate in the UK, bringing in more opinionated and right-wing views.

talkTV is Rupert Murdoch’s reentry into the TV market in the UK after giving up his stake in Sky News UK as part of 21st Century Fox due to being outbid by Comcast, after which he had no stake in the British television market. talkTV is aimed at challenging its rival GB News and also providing opinionated news, seen as an expansion of Murdoch’s media empire which is accused of fostering right-wing views and populist sentiments.

What makes them controversial and what effect will they have on the media landscape as we know it?

There are widespread fears that news will become more opinionated with the launch of television channels such as GB News and talkTV, which would create more media bias and contribute to political polarisation.

They are the first of their kind in the UK and threaten to undermine the public service broadcasting model, meaning they threaten the provision of news that serves the public and aim to make television news partial. Whilst Britain’s television scene is subject to Ofcom’s due impartiality rules, GB News will still be able to air some opinionated news. This is because the rules do not require that there is equal airtime of all sides of the debate, rather as long as other views are shown at some point, opinionated news is technically able to be aired. These rules of due impartiality thus leave wiggle room for all television channels to incorporate some opinionated news.

The controversy surrounding these two media platforms is focused around their partiality and also the figures involved on these platforms. Andrew Neil left the BBC to became GB News’ first chairman, before leaving due to misalignment with the channels’ values and not wanting to contribute to a ‘British Fox News’. Other figures involved in GB News include former UKIP leader Nigel Farage. talkTV will have Piers Morgan as a host and will draw on reporters and journalists from a range of News UK ´owned outlets, such as The Sun, or The Times, signifying particular leanings.

In addition to fears over media bias and turning the British television landscape into an opinionated and partial US Fox News style landscape, there are concerns over media concentration. With News UK already owning a large number of newspaper and radio outlets in the UK, a television channel will only increase media concentration and decrease media plurality, which is noted as damaging to democracy.

For more articles and resources, head over to our dedicated section on The Media.

Edited by Evie Townend

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