By Ron Howells • 15 June 2021 • 23:05
Presenter Andrew Neil prepares to broadcast from a studio during the launch event for new TV channel GB News at The Point in Paddington, London. image: Twitter
GB News loses Nivea, Grolsch and Ikea within 48 hours of launch over right-wing opinions.
GB News, the brand new television channel that launched this week with backing from pro-Brexit tycoons and a mission to produce “anti-woke” US-style news content, is facing an advertiser backlash after big consumer brands including Ikea, Nivea and Grolsch said they would pull their adverts from the network.
Fronted by a clutch of familiar names including the former BBC and Sky presenters Andrew Neil and Kirsty Gallacher, GB News, which launched on Sunday, June 13, is pitching itself as an alternative to the mainstream media, sky and the BBC, with a focus on generating opinion and controversy, rather than original reporting.
However, activists are already calling for boycotts of brands that advertise on the channel, on the grounds that they believe it is hoping to monetise divisive political issues and to push the boundaries of UK TV news regulations, which require politically balanced broadcasts.
The channel is broadcast on television across Great Britain and Northern Ireland and streamed online to the rest of the world.
Ikea, the Dutch beer brand Grolsch and the Swedish cider-maker Kopparberg said they had suspended adverts because of concerns the channel’s content would go against their aim to be inclusive. Nivea said it would review its position in three months. The brands said they had not been aware their adverts were being aired on the channel.
The Open University, which is publicly funded, also said it had paused advertising on GB News. It said on Twitter that it had not planned or purchased advertising on GB News, and added that it was investigating why it had happened. Kopparberg said it also had not been aware the channel would air its spots.
Octopus Energy’s founder, Greg Jackson, published a letter to customers on Tuesday evening that said it had asked its agencies to suspend advertising on GB News. “We’re not currently running ads on GB News,” he wrote. “We will monitor it, and only advertise if it proves to be genuinely balanced.”
He added that the “furore” over the channel’s launch “gave GB News much sought-after publicity” as well as adding to division.
Some of the channel’s financial backers have supported prominent right-wing causes and campaign groups, while some GB News programmes are presented by journalists with outspoken views on issues generally associated with right-wing politics. The former Brexit party leader Nigel Farage was one of the first guests on the channel’s opening night.
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Ron actually started his working career as an Ophthalmic Technician- things changed when, during a band rehearsal, his amplifier blew up and he couldn’t get it fixed so he took a course at Birmingham University and ended up doing a degree course. He built up a chain of electronics stores and sold them as a franchise over 35 years ago. After five years touring the world Ron decided to move to Spain with his wife and son, a place they had visited over the years, and only bought the villa they live in because it has a guitar-shaped swimming pool!.
Playing the guitar since the age of 7, he can often be seen, (and heard!) at beach bars and clubs along the length of the coast. He has always been interested in the news and constantly thrives to present his articles in an interesting and engaging way.
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