GB News has today announced plans to launch a national radio service as early as next month – just days before its channel starts on Sunday.
The new network, chaired by political interviewer Andrew Neil, said it was in the final stages of completing a ‘long-term deal to secure spectrum on the Digital One national multiplex’.
The proposed deal with telecommunications company Arqiva would allow GB News Radio to reach 91 per cent of households across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, it said.
The news comes two days before GB News launches its television and digital service, at 8pm on Sunday.
GB News bosses have already requested regulatory approval from media watchdog Ofcom.
And ex-ITV man Alastair Stewart said he hopes the launch will provide a ‘broader’ and more ‘exciting’ canvas than the traditional news bulletin.
The new British television news channel GB News will launch at 8pm on June 13 with a special programme called Welcome To GB News. Left: GB News presenter Andrew Neil. Right: Michelle Dewberry
Economist Liam Halligan, former Labour MP Gloria De Piero, Mercy Muroki and Colin Brazier seen for first time in the studio
Chief executive officer Angelos Frangopoulos said: ‘GB News is a digital start-up designed to bring greater plurality of voices to UK media so we’re passionate about delivering our programmes on every platform we can, including live DAB digital radio.’
He added: ‘It’s a considerable challenge to expand into radio so quickly but this opportunity is too great to miss.
‘It means we can serve more people by giving them the choice to tune in to us anywhere, any time.
Left: GB News presenter Dan Wootton. Right: Simon McCoy
Alastair Stewart says there is a market for the other side of the story
Alastair Stewart has said he hopes the launch of GB News will provide a ‘broader’ and more ‘exciting’ canvas than the traditional news bulletin, and offer something to the ‘huge market for the other side of the story’.
The veteran broadcaster, who left ITV News last year after more than 35 years, will present Alastair Stewart And Friends on the fledgling network, featuring conversation and analysis of current affairs. He is one of a host of high -profile signings for the channel, chaired by Andrew Neil, including former BBC journalist Simon McCoy, former Sky journalist Colin Brazier and former Labour MP Gloria De Piero.
He said: ‘The (existing) main network news is bulletin-driven, here is Mary Nightingale, here is George Alagiah giving you 30 minutes of news in two minute, hermetically sealed little packages and that serves a purpose, no doubt, but that’s not what we will be doing. We will be saying here’s a couple of hours with Alastair Stewart, Andrew Neil, Simon McCoy, Gloria De Piero etc, talking about the issues that are in the main news agenda, talking about issues that they themselves feel very strongly should be in the agenda, giving their views, giving their opinions, talking to people and seeking other opinions.
‘So it’s a much broader and I think, exciting canvas than the traditional news bulletin.’ He continued: ‘I think television news deserves to exist and deserves to be potent and respected. And I think that is slipping.
‘I think it’s desperately worrying that £DefundtheBBC, as a hashtag, has the enormity of the following that it does, because I for one wouldn’t want to defund the BBC. But I’m one of the very many who would like the BBC to get its act together, particularly in news and current affairs.’
‘It was a highly competitive selection process so we’re really delighted.
‘We look forward to partnering again with Arqiva, who already take care of our terrestrial and satellite television signals as well as our fibre connectivity.’
The GB News channel launches on June 13 with a special programme at 8pm titled Welcome To GB News.
It has signed up a roster of high-profile talent, including ex-BBC presenter Simon McCoy, MailOnline columnist Dan Wootton and ex-Sky broadcaster Colin Brazier.
Launched as a rival to the news and current affairs offerings on the likes of BBC and Sky, it will be available to watch in HD on Sky channel 515 and Virgin Media’s channel 626, as well as also showing on Freeview and YouView channel 236, Freesat channel 216 and online.
On Thursday GB News’ key presenters were pictured in futuristic behind the scenes pictures of the studio ahead of the new channel launching this weekend.
Other names to feature on air include former Sky Sports presenter Kirsty Gallacher, Darren McCaffrey and Rosie Wright, who will host morning show The Great British Breakfast, while also working on other programmes.
The news channel, launched as a rival to the news and current affairs offerings on the likes of BBC and Sky, has also signed up businesswoman and former Apprentice winner Michelle Dewberry.
Broadcaster and author Neil Oliver, known for programmes including Coast and A History Of Ancient Britain, will host Neil Oliver Live, while Andrew Doyle will host Free Speech Nation.
Former ITV presenter Alastair Stewart will anchor Alastair Stewart And Friends, featuring conversation and analysis of current affairs.
The broadcaster said: ‘I don’t think that there is a market for nastiness. I don’t indulge in nastiness myself.
‘But I do think that there is a huge market for the other side of the story, and the one that can be expressed without worrying too much about walking on eggs, and not offending people who are desperately sensitive and politically correct.’
The BBC’s new TV news rival: From a broadcasting titan to an ex-Apprentice star, can the GB News team of 150 outfox Auntie’s 6,000 news staff
New GB News will launch on Sunday night with a special welcome programmeStation is the first big newcomers to TV current affairs since Sky News in 1989Broadcasting heavyweight Andrew Neil is at the help and will lead team of 150
British broadcasting heavyweight Andrew Neil is at the helm of the GB News channel
Here’s a story that BBC News might not be going very big on this weekend: a rival station launches on Sunday.
GB News will be the first big newcomer to the world of TV current affairs since Sky News appeared in 1989. And at the helm is one of the heavyweights of British broadcasting, Andrew Neil.
The former Sunday Times editor and Daily Mail columnist spent 25 years at the BBC, presenting The Week, The Daily Politics, The Andrew Neil Show, and doing his bit on election nights.
Then suddenly his forensic, fact-packed interviewing style fell out of favour. In July last year he revealed that he’d become ‘surplus to requirements’ and was considering his options.
When Tim Davie took over as director-general in the autumn he tried to persuade him to stay on but it was too little too late and Mr Neil left in September and shortly afterwards announced plans to set up the new station.
What can viewers expect?
There’ll be no rolling news or even hourly bulletins among its annual output of 6,500 hours of programming, but the sort of debate and discussion shows that Mr Neil presented at the BBC. He’ll even be hosting the opening programme, at 8pm on Sunday.
Pictured: studio of new British television news channel GB News which is under construction at The Point in Paddington, north London. The channel is set to launch at 8pm on June 13
It won’t be a 24-hour service either. Broadcasts will begin at 6am and will close down at midnight. Just like TV did in the old days. Perhaps they should bring back the little white dot and high-pitched whine that once warned sleepy viewers not to leave the set on all night.
The biggest difference, though, will be cultural. If a minister appears with a Union Jack and a picture of the Queen in the background, GB News presenters won’t get the giggles.
Is it fox news with a British accent?
The shadow of America’s Fox News has loomed over the new channel from the start. Fox is opinionated and robustly Right-wing: it was one of the few mainstream media outlets which had a good word to say about President Trump.
Mr Neil insists that GB News — which will conform to rules on impartiality set by the TV regulator Ofcom — will not be Fox UK.
Pictured: Presenters in the GB News studio located within The Point, Paddington, London
‘There are two groups who are going to be very disappointed,’ he says.
‘Those who want us to be like Fox News and those who say we will be like Fox News’.
The new station, which is based in Paddington, West London, hopes to appeal more to the regions — people like Boris Johnson’s Red Wall voters — rather than the metropolitan classes.
Who are the stars on screen?
Apart from Mr Neil, one of the star turns will be former ITN newsreader Alastair Stewart, surely the only broadcaster ever to step down after quoting Shakespeare.
During a spat on Twitter — where else? — he quoted the following lines from Measure for Measure: ‘But man, proud man, dress’d in a little brief authority, most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d. His glassy essence — like an angry ape — plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven as makes the angels weak.’
Alastair Stewart and Gloria De Piero will join the team at GB News when it launches this month
His opponent in the argument, about the funding of the monarchy, was black and complained about the phrase ‘angry ape’.
Although Stewart had used the same quotation in a previous row with a white opponent, he parted company with ITN.
His GB News colleague Gloria de Piero is a former Labour MP who returned to broadcasting — she’d previously been political editor of GMTV — after falling out with her party.
She had complained about a ‘lack of tolerance of different viewpoints’.
No self-respecting news channel can launch without a heavyweight morning show and The Great British Breakfast will be presented by a rotating team of six, including BBC veteran Nana Akua and ex-Sky Sports News anchor Kirsty Gallacher.