Andrew Neil raises £60m for alternative news channel

Current mood: Extreme jealousy:

The latest addition to Britain’s array of 24-hour news channels is to begin recruiting more than 100 journalists after completing a £60m fundraising that it claims was significantly oversubscribed.

GB News, which aims to launch later this year, said on Wednesday that Sir Paul Marshall, a prominent hedge fund manager, and Legatum, a Dubai-based investment group, would become major shareholders in the company.

GB News will be chaired by Andrew Neil, the veteran former BBC broadcaster, who will also host a prime-time programme on the channel.

The expectation (though expectations are often confounded) is that GB news will be a broadly conservative news offering, playing a similar role in the United Kingdom to the role played by Fox News in the United States.

The channel will be available in Ireland, we expect, through Sky and Freeview.

Some comfortable Irish academics sound a bit discomfited:

There’s little doubt that there’s a market for this sort of thing in the UK, where the broadcast media, for example, have all taken a uniformly sceptical line on Brexit, in contradiction to the views of half of the electorate. Andrew Neil is one of the most respected journalists on these islands, so it can be expected that he will attract quality reporters, hosts, and producers. His name almost certainly helped attracted the massive investment that GB news has just received.

For those of us in Ireland who desperately desire an alternative to RTE and Virgin Media, the prospects remain bleak.

To the extent that GB news is attempting to fill a gap in the market, it’s only possible because the UK is such a big market. The Irish market is so small that even RTE, with its controversial state funding, would like collapse without the licence fee. For the first few years, at minimum, a new Irish broadcaster would be a charity case, relying on donors or investors to pump money in to cover losses.

Here at Gript, for example, we run on a shoestring compared to our obvious competitors, like the Journal – and even the Journal, with its armada of activists, and significant advertising reach, is relying on reader donations to keep the dopey fact checks coming.

The flip side of this, of course, is that the Irish media environment is so starved of funding that a well-funded venture could make a huge and immediate impact, by being able to offer journalists an actual living, as opposed to the tiny salaries many of them subsist on. Reaching a critical mass of audience share quickly is both achievable, and critical – but it’s a bit like the chicken and the egg. Nobody wants to invest millions without a guarantee of profit, and you can’t guarantee profit even with an investment of millions.

Nonetheless, we’ll watch the launch of GB news with great interest, and significant jealousy.

In the meantime, if you’re sick and tired of RTE, and the rest of them, please do consider giving us a few quid. It all helps, and nobody else is doing what we try to do here.

Share mdi-share-variant mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-printer mdi-chevron-left Prev Next mdi-chevron-right Related
Comments are open

The biggest problem Ireland faces right now is:

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...