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How long will G B News last?

Former BBC presenters often switch sides to make a better pension for themselves, so the best of luck former sacked Sunday newspaper editor Mr Neil, to archaeologist Mr Oliver, and convincing teleprompter reader Mr McCoy for making the best of last of the television summer wine.

The best news Saudi and American and money can buy  Photograph: UK Free TV
The best news Saudi and American and money can buy Photograph: UK Free TV
published on UK Free TV

It is unlikely to last awfully long.

It seems unlikely for GB News to last be long-running service because although £60 million sounds like an awful lot of money, but it has not bought a place anywhere near the top of the TV menu.  ITN runs the news for ITV/STV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 on £136 million a year and that does not include a 24/7 news-only broadcast channel, only three hours a night.    BBC News’s various outputs (BBC News channel, BBC World News, BBC regional news) costs many hundreds of millions of pounds a year to run. 

According to City AM £20m of the money for “G B News” came from US media giant Discovery, Inc. based in New York. The remainder is from Dubai-based investment firm Legatum and hedge fund manager Sir Paul Marshall:  perhaps it should be called “Dubai Discovery-Inc News”?  


It has somewhat limited coverage.

The channel will be broadcast on Freeview multiplex com6.  This means less than three quarters of homes will be able to even receive the Freeview signal. (Multiplex COM6 - ARQB - Arqiva B: broadcasting to 19.8m UK homes from 80 masts ).   This means that the of the 44% of homes that use Freeview, only three quarters of them will be able to watch the new channel, makes 32.9% of homes. 

If the channel is on Sky that will add another possible 30.1% of homes (8.38m/27.8m) and Freesat homes are now 3.8% (1.07m/27.8m). 

In total no more than 66.8% of homes will be capable of watching. 


It is as far down the programme guide as you can go.

One of the problems for new UK TV channels that are not public service broadcasting channels is that the legal rules for EPG positions means that after the top slots go to BBC, and the public service broadcasting channels (ITV/STV/UTV, Channel 4, Channel 5) are then allocated on a first come first-served basis.  

The rules also say that without broadcasting anything for at last two hours a day the slot is lost.   But any spaces vacated this way caused a shuffle of the channel numbers to make the free slot at the end (in the 90s on Freeview).  Each broadcaster can shuffle around their own channel allocations, so UKTV can move Dave, Drama, and Yesterday, but the slots cannot be sold off.

This means that Freeview channel 236 is literally 118 presses of channel down from the old home of Mr Neil and Mr Oliver.    Fans of Mr McCoy will find him only 20 channels down, but no longer in High Definition.   This is important because time and again viewers still trust what is on the single-digit Freeview channels and do not seek out the same people when they jump ship.   The remaining British viewers of broadcast TV do not really watch news shows after 7pm and before 10pm: there are such shows on at 8pm on ITV+1, BBC FOUR and 9pm on BBC Scotland and they not watched by many homes.   People expect their peak time TV to entertain!

Andrew Neil’s BBC shows have been for described as for “bored students and housewives” and “insomniacs”.  


Live TV is dying

This is against a falling trend for television.  In 1992 average weekly viewing was 30 hours per person per week, still 28 hours in 2000 but by this year, 2021, has fallen to 19½ hours a week, down 35%. 

The Disney corporation “closed 30 channels in fiscal year 2020. We plan to close 100 in 2021”.   With the rise and rise of Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video most media organizations are removing content from broadcast television, because most people want to watch stuff when they want to!

The BBC News channel has a share now of 1.38% (watched for 2½ average daily minutes), Sky News 0.82% (1½ average daily minutes) and Sky Sports News 0.46% (48 seconds average a day).      All other news channels score nil points by BARB.


It is not G.B and it is not News.

Clearly the people putting up the £60 million for this TV channel do not spend much time in the United Kingdom because they would realise that every schoolchild can tell you that “Great Britain” is the name of the biggest island in the British Isles archipelago, ahead of the Island of Island.  The next most populated are Portsea Island, Isle of Wight, Anglesey, Isle of Sheppey and so forth.

Perhaps if the backers did not all live between 5,592 and 6,441 km away from our fair isles, they might get that!


It also appears that the schedule and budget for the channel are not going to be able to run to collecting much news.  Based in single location in Paddington in London, it seems unlikely to match the reach of ITN (with their Border, Tyne Tees, Calendar, Granada, Central, Anglia, London, Meridian, Wales, West Country, Channel, UTV news commitments) and clearly no match for the well-funded BBC news operation that still runs from 14 locations in England: London, Nottingham, Norwich, Cambridge, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, Tunbridge Wells, Southampton, Plymouth, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Hull, plus Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, St Helier as well as BBC World News, BBC News America, BBC Arabic and BBC Persian. 

Hiring lots of people to sit in Paddington who shown skill has been to be the face for a skilled, reputable, and well-oiled news machine are going to struggle without having news to read from the teleprompter.    Even with the best technology, the best communications networks, and the best people almost every 24/7 news channel has taken many years to get it together: Sky News, BBC News 24, BBC World Service News TV, and Sky Sports News Dot Com TV all were quite embarrassing for many years.    Presenters such as Mr Neil have been fronting 45-minute shows, not 168 hours of TV output every week. 


A history of failure of TV News channels

Most TV news channels have been and gone.   ITN News/ITV News lasted from August 2000 until Christmas 2005 but never managed to sell enough adverts to make it a financially viable prospect.

Sky News is kept on air by the subscriptions that people take out with Sky generally being used to fund a goodwill brand ambassador for Sky.    Of course, Mr Neil was involved with the early days of Sky News but was ousted when Sky Television merged with former rival British Satellite Broadcasting because his public statements were not suitable for the new merged company BSkyB, which perhaps means he is still “taunting” as much as he always was! 

And Mr Neil was also the editor of the Sunday Times (whilst “editing” Sky News) before moving onto being on the BBC Two every weekday, and Sundays and Thursday late night on BBC One.  The idea that Mr Neil is anything of an outsider is perhaps fanciful.  

But no-one has managed to launch an independent new TV News channel for many years because even well thought out channels like The Money Channel, which at last had a target for adverts in mind, burnt though their cash before making a profit.  


The no Paul Dacre problem

Another problem here for “Dubai- Discovery News” is that (surely) part of the plan was for former newspaper editor (and current multimillionaire) has failed to demonstrate that he could perform the legal duties required as a head of Ofcom and will not be therefore there to be able to turn a blind eye to the legal protections that are required of a broadcast TV channel by the law.

Remember here that it is the multiplex operator (Arqiva) that will be unable to broadcast the channel if Ofcom says it is not 100% squeaky clean and as they transmit almost everything in the UK, they will comply with an Ofcom directive or just be totally unable to operate their business.   


So, in summary

  • In at most 66.8% of homes.
  • 118 clicks down the TV guide from Mr Andrew Niels old TV homes (so, lots of inertia)
  • Not really doing news, just talking about it, piggybacking on other’s content (“Wokewatch” is perhaps another name for cheap piracy)
  • Not in HD on Freeview
  • These types of channels burn money and find it hard to get an audience.
  • Will need to comply with all Ofcom Broadcasting Codes and the law.


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Wednesday, 2 June 2021

1:36 PM

Briantist, I think you may have got the coverage figures for COM6 mixed up with COM7. COM6 has coverage of 90+% of UK households from 90 transmitters, whereas COM7 is around 75% from 25 transmitters. Also, GB News has launched in HD on Sky and Freesat.

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StevensOnln1's 3,547 posts GB flag

4:03 PM


JavaScript is not available.
Yes I think Brian has got mixed up about the COM6 coverage, so there'll be quite a lot more that will get it (and watch it). It certainly isn't going to be "wokewatch".

Why are so many people hung up about how far "down" the EPG a station is, it doesn't seem to do Sky or the other stations any harm, never mind all those that watch things on Virgin Media, it's having the ability to key in 3 numbers in succession is the thing, I know the need for that does niggle a few but then again, most devices have the ability to set up "favourites" so you can end up doing it with a simple key press!

Most people I talk to don't give a toss how far down the EPG things are, the important thing for them is remembering the numbers of their favourites (and to that end the important channels having memorable numbers or one that's existed for a very long time) which is why so many were annoyed about the Freeview/OFCOM mess-up last November shunting everything above 24 to 54 up one when there was a much simpler and logical solution that would have complied with OFCOM's requirement. But then since when has Freeview or OFCOM used logic and common sense in things - very little in my eyes. Eg. having 4Seven now on 48, yes that's good logic - NOT!

As far as how long GB NEWS lasts - I'd guess a lot longer than Brian seems to be thinking. Judging by opinions I'm hearing. Most people are fed up with the way the current media including TV, reports the news, some very cleverly leaving the odd fact here and there out of a report which leads to a biased view which a lot of people don't pick up on immediately, never mind those (the press especially) that don't like the government for one reason or another and just report things in a way that mud is hurled at them in the hope that some will stick.
Most of the "anti-GB NEWS" mob seem to come from those quarters as well as political opponents of those that see it as a right-wing channel - and it's not even on air yet!

I'm looking forward to what I hope will be some refreshing straight forward presentation of "facts" with proper investigative journalism (something current journalists seem inept at) not half-truths or bias.

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Chris.SE's 3,677 posts GB flag
Brian Butterworth

5:57 PM

SStevensOnln1: I'm not confused, thank you. Com6 broadcasts to 19.8m UK homes from 80 masts (74% of the population)!

You might have thought that after 19 years, give or take a month, of doing this I might have the hang of it now!

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Brian Butterworth's 38,899 posts GB flag
Brian Butterworth

6:05 PM

Chris.SE: I've read though all the stuff they put out in the Press Gazette and so forth and I can't recall seeing anyone listed as doing investigative journalism. Who are you thinking of?

GB News launch date revealed + latest signings and schedule information doesn't seem to mention it. Where have you seen about investigative journalism?

The reason that people care about EPG position is that more people watch stuff the lower the number. Sky doesn't care because it has never cared about viewers, only SUBSCRIBERS.

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Brian Butterworth's 38,899 posts GB flag

11:58 PM

Brian Butterworth:

Brian, didn't you ever watch Andrew Neil's interviews on the BBC? He had always done his homework and got all the facts before him so that he could ask the "right" "awkward" questions, whoever he interviewed.
I'm expecting that ideology will percolate through what GB News do, time will tell. Let's see what they offer once they've been up and running for a while.
I'm certainly not prepared to denounce and belittle the channel and it's presenters before they've even launched.

As far as EPG position goes, I didn't say that there weren't people that cared, they are in a minority IMHO based on many people I talk to. Those broadcasters that "care" are being small minded IMHO, nor btw do I think that a lot of BARB's figures are representative these days, simply because I don't believe they have a representative selection of viewers any more.

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Chris.SE's 3,677 posts GB flag
Thursday, 3 June 2021
Brian Butterworth

7:32 AM

Chris.SE: I don't recall denouncing this channel, just pointing out it's underfunded.

I think if you check what most people mean by investigative journalism they don't mean "an prepared interviewer", they mean "a form of journalism in which reporters deeply investigate a single topic of interest, such as serious crimes, political corruption, or corporate wrongdoing. An investigative journalist may spend months or years researching and preparing a report. "

Examples of this on British TV are: Dispatches on Channel 4, The Cook Report on ITV, Panorama on BBC One.

In the newspapers the top example was Insight at the Sunday Times.

See How to uncover the truth in investigative journalism | Royal Television Society and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism for more.

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Brian Butterworth's 38,899 posts GB flag

8:50 AM

The big difference between GB News and the rest is thar it promises to be right of centre.
That shall be enough to have a huge audience potential.
I would expect it to expand, with more reporters and regional studios.
The comments about its place in the Freesat EPG ( 216) is alongside Sky News, the BBC., and
other news broadcasters, when the "News" option is
The Facebook & Twitter reaction to the station's start
of Broadcasting is overwhelmingly positive, with only
Communists and other leftists finding "reasons" for it to
fail, evidently because it won't be stuffed full of activists that
for far too long have controlled the media.

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Mike's 22 posts GB flag

8:56 AM

Can the organisers of this site sort out the word wrapping for posts, please?
Posting from a mobile is difficult, and shall result
in mispelling and paragraphs in the wrong place.
Just look at my last post here, gibberish.
Make it mobile friendly please.

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Mike's 22 posts GB flag
Iain Girling
2:11 PM

Whether it survives, thrives or fails will be due to the viewers. We (they) want honest, truthful unbiased reporting of genuine events that can be TRUSTED. None of this can be applied to the mainstream media, hence the reason for the channels existence. Time will tell.

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Iain Girling's 4 posts GB flag
Brian Butterworth

2:22 PM

Iain Girling: Which is my point entirety! It turned out that people didn't watch The Money Channel or the ITV News Channel either. In television the amount of revenue from advertising isn't earned in portion to the BARB numbers, you need either BIG audiences like ITV, or high-income ones like Sky Arts. Commercial channels with small numbers of low-income viewers don't last long.

Mike: You pressed return at the end of each line, therefore your post looks like it does. My policy of 19 years now, is to never edit posts once made.

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Brian Butterworth's 38,899 posts GB flag
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