Andrew Neil breaks silence over ‘fraught’ GB News launch and says channel has ‘great future’

‘Watch this space’ says Neil — but reports say few are watching at all

Jane Dalton,Alastair Jamieson
Saturday 17 July 2021 08:12
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Presenter takes the knee on live TV in support of England football team

GB News founder Andrew Neil has insisted the fledgling channel has a “great future” despite being embroiled in chaos both on-air and behind the scenes.

The veteran journalist, who has been taking an unexpected break from the channel, spoke out after a presenter was taken off-air in a row over taking the knee. It comes amid reports of super-low viewing figures and the resignation of a senior executive.

Viewers have also commented on endless technical problems, including dark lighting.

Neil, who has said little since he stepped away less than two weeks after its launch, posted on Twitter: “Watch this space.”

“Start-ups are fraught and fractious. GB News is no exception,” he wrote. “But the news channel is finding its feet and has a great future.”

Official figures show no measurable audience was recorded between 1pm and 1.30pm on Wednesday, and briefly again at 5pm that day, according to broadcast data seen by The Guardian.

Some viewers said they had been angered by guest presenter Guto Harri taking the knee in support of black footballers during a segment on the topic.

The channel said it had “let both sides of the argument down by oversimplifying a very complex issue”.

The Guardian reported on Thursday that behind-the-scenes trouble had deepened with the departure of the channel's director of news and programmes, John McAndrew.

Meanwhile, former ITN veteran Alastair Stewart, 69, announced he was taking a break from his show after breaking his hip in an equestrian incident.

“I was leading in one of the horses and she bolted, knocking me over - rather forcefully,” he tweeted, adding: “I’ll be back!”

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