GB News eyes Farage’s old Brexit party friends in wake of Andrew Neil exit

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September 15, 2021

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Channel appears to be moving further right with liberal voices squeezed out and Brexiters reported to be set to join

GB News is looking to hire more of Nigel Farage’s former Brexit party stablemates as channel bosses look set to rebuild the station as a full-throated culture war outlet after the departure of Andrew Neil.

Neil finally confirmed he would be stepping down as chairman and lead presenter on Monday night, just three months after he helped launch the channel and having presented only eight of the 52 episodes of his flagship show. His announcement, which came after weeks of rumours of Neil’s discontentment, has left many of the station’s staff pondering their future.

Instead, GB News appears to be increasingly being moulded in Farage’s image. Sources at GB News told the Guardian that station bosses have been in discussion with Gawain Towler, the former Brexit party head of press and longtime Farage aide, about joining the business. Other potential new presenters include Ann Widdecombe and Martin Daubney, both former Brexit party MEPs.

Recruitment for a new head of programmes is ongoing, with prominent Brexiters mentioned as potential candidates. A GB News spokesperson declined to comment on speculation.

GB News already employs many individuals associated with the Brexit party, including Alex Phillips, Michelle Dewberry and Farage himself – which makes up the station’s entire weekday line-up between 4pm and 8pm. All of them were either Brexit party MEPs or stood for the party in a general election.

One concern among some GB News producers is the reduction in airtime given to leftwing guests who were put on air to balance discussions. Sources claim channel bosses are increasingly confident they are able to push the limits of what is possible under Ofcom’s broadcasting rules and reduce the airtime for such individuals, who often elicit negative reactions from viewers.

One of the most popular topics raised by viewers is anti-vaccine material, with chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos urging staff to check their inbox for a sense of what the audience cares about.

Nevertheless, GB News bosses remain concerned about the risk of an Ofcom investigation into coronavirus-related misinformation. Last month presenter Calvin Robinson suggested using the anti-parasite drug ivermectin to fight Covid, despite warnings from medical organisations that there is no evidence it is effective.

In an email to staff on Tuesday, interim programme chief Nick Pollard said “broadcasting unverified or misleading theories about the epidemic or about potential treatments including medical advice which may be harmful” is against Ofcom rules.

“The bottom line is that broadcasts should not run the risk of causing harm or damaging public health through misleading statements,” he said, urging presenters to challenge such statements on air.

A spokesperson for Ofcom cou….

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