Since its launch just over two weeks ago, GB News has had many critics. However, most of the problems that early reviewers noted were surface-level problems (such as the lighting and studio setup) that any start-up channel could have struggled with and that could easily be corrected. Many struck off the channel for those reasons along with its unmistakable right-wing bias. But what those critics failed to notice was the bigger monster lurking in the dark: the threat GB News poses for impartiality and factual truth — themes that British broadcast journalism prides itself on.


Right-wing thinking all the way

Rather than being another rolling news channel like the BBC or Sky news (territory that they were unlikely to win viewers in), GB News opted to make regular time-slotted shows with the same hosts. These were advertised as topical debate shows with interviews, focussing on the ‘topics that mattered to the British people’. What we got instead were heavily weighted debates on why Covid lockdowns were wrong, a limited acceptance of trans and LGBT+ rights, hatred of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and climate change scepticism. This is far from what was advertised when GB News promised free speech for all. It is also quite different from what many of GBN’s presenters used to do in their old jobs — that demanded a moderate and evenly contested approach to controversial topics.

We are not unfamiliar to weighted journalism. We see weighted approaches like this in print journalism, with pieces being written every day by people with strong left and right-wing views. Even the radio station LBC where the hosts come with their stock of biases, these are usually controlled in some way. But not GB News, where bias has been taken to the extreme of unfiltered opinion and horrifying many viewers. In sum, GB News appeals to a specific audience in Britain while firmly alienating the rest.

Is this what the British public want?

Well, arguably no. It is pretty unanimous among all reports that viewership for GB News has plummeted since its initial launch. Advertisers have pulled their commercials from the channel sighting concerns that its unpopularity could harm their brand. Commentator India Willoughby has quit GBN after accusing it of ‘opening the gates of hell for trans people’. Even Andrew Neil, one of the channels biggest hosts, has agreed to take some time away from the show for unknown reasons — the network’s imminent failure, perhaps?

Given that GB News is heavily invested in and has some big names, it’s likely to stay. Supporters of the channel do exist. Despite the controversy, Andrew Neil’s show was the most-watched news programme in the 8-9 p.m. slot on any news channel in Britain. GB News also has a strong Twitter following of 300,000+ and 145,000 YouTube subscribers. These numbers will likely keep growing as the channel branches out into live streaming — an intention their political commentator, Tom Harwood, has confirmed. They are also working on the development of smart TV apps, which is likely to broaden potential viewership figures and discoverability with people no longer limited to watching GB News through the website or on terrestrial television.

Does a dark future await? 

GB News poses the threat of a dark future for the media. A future where truth is left by the wayside and is replaced with an echo chamber of opinionated noise, within which whoever shouts the loudest wins. This is exactly the kind of landscape that sites such as Shout Out UK have strived to prevent through media and political literacy.

Societies have witnessed and learned from authoritarian regimes of the past that suppressed free speech and imposed false truths. We as humans fought to establish liberal democracy for a reason. Now, nearly thirty years on from the end of the Cold War, some feel we need to block objectivity and truth and return to those dark days of stifling opinion.