GB News: Former No 10 official ‘leading effort to launch BBC competitor’

Sir Robbie Gibb believed to be behind drive to raise money for rival news channel

Adam Forrest
Monday 31 August 2020 13:52
PM calls for end to ‘self-recrimination and wetness’ over BBC Proms song stance

Theresa May’s former head of communications Sir Robbie Gibb has emerged as a prominent figure in the bid to set up a new 24-hour news channel in the UK to rival the BBC.

The former Downing Street official is reportedly leading efforts to raise money for GB News – a television channel aimed at people who believe the public broadcaster has become too left-wing and “woke”.

GB News has already been given a licence by broadcasting regulator Ofcom, and is said to be targeting a launch on Freeview in 2021.

“The channel will be a truly impartial source of news, unlike the woke, wet BBC,” one GB News source told The Mail on Sunday. “It will deliver the facts, not opinion dressed up as news.”

Sir Robbie – who worked as a the head of the BBC’s political programme output until leaving to join Ms May at No 10 in 2017 – is keen to bring veteran interviewer Andrew Neil to the channel, the newspaper reported.

In a recent opinion piece for The Telegraph, Sir Robbie claimed the Beeb had been “culturally captured by the woke-dominated group think of some of its own staff”.

The keen Brexit supporter added: “There is a default left-leaning attitude from a metropolitan workforce mostly drawn from a similar social and economic background.”

Records show the fledging TV channel – which some have described as an attempt to bring “Fox News-style” broadcasting to Britain – has been in the works for some time.

Ofcom granted a television broadcasting license to GB News in January 2020. All Perspectives, the limited company granted the license, was set up last September, according to Companies House listings.

Sir Robbie’s former colleague Gavin Barwell, Ms May’s former chief of staff at No 10, was among those who voiced concern that the new channel could further “polarise” British politics.

He tweeted: “Do you think a polarised broadcast media to go with the polarised print media we already have will change our politics and country for the better?”

Robbie Gibb, former head of BBC’s political programme output

The move come as the BBC’s new director general is expected to set out his plans for the corporation this week – with impartiality a key focus.

Tim Davie starts in the wake of anger from the right over the decision to play orchestral versions of Rule, Britannia! and Land Of Hope And Glory at the Last Night Of The Proms.

The broadcaster is also expecting to receive a report into the use of social media by its staff, including presenters, written by Richard Sambrook.

A BBC spokeswoman said: “Impartiality is vitally important for the BBC and we look forward to receiving Richard Sambrook’s assessment of the issues around the use of social media.”

The Independent has approached Sir Robbie for comment.

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