Former No 10 adviser Sir Robbie Gibb launches a TV rival to ‘woke wet BBC’ while Rupert Murdoch also plans a news channel as broadcaster faces further pressure in the wake of its Rule Britannia debacle
- Ex Tory adviser Sir Robbie Gibb is spearheading the drive for funds for GB News
- Sir Robbie is an ex-senior BBC executive and Theresa May’s No 10 PR adviser
- It comes as Rupert Murdoch’s News UK company develops its own news show
Sir Robbie Gibb – who was a senior BBC executive before becoming Theresa May’s director of communications at No 10 – is spearheading a drive to raise funds for GB News.
The 24-hour station, due to launch early next year, aims to capitalise on growing discontent over the BBC, with sources describing it as an antidote to the ‘woke, wet’ Corporation.
The BBC has been rocked by a series of controversies over what’s seen as its politically correct agenda, culminating in public outrage over its decision last week to perform Land Of Hope And Glory and Rule Britannia without their patriotic lyrics at the Last Night Of The Proms.
Sir Robbie Gibb – who was a senior BBC executive before becoming Theresa May’s director of communications at No 10 – is spearheading a drive to raise funds for GB News
A poll published yesterday found that 59 per cent of people believe that the BBC decision was wrong, and two-thirds of voters wanted the licence fee scrapped.
Pressure on the BBC will further increase with the development of a second rival news channel from Rupert Murdoch’s News UK company, likely to be streamed online in a similar way to Netflix.
Sir Robbie’s channel will use standard digital platforms such as Freeview, and has already been given a licence by broadcasting regulator Ofcom.
The rival projects are likely to ensure a turbulent start to the tenure of the BBC’s new director-general Tim Davie, who takes up his position on Tuesday.
On Friday, his predecessor, Lord Hall of Birkenhead, insisted the BBC was not a ‘woke corporation’.
He said the lyrics had been dropped from the patriotic songs at Last Night Of The Proms because it would not be possible to do them justice without an audience at the Royal Albert Hall.
Lord Hall added that he and Mr Davie had jointly approved the move to play orchestral versions, which he insisted was ‘the right creative decision’.
Pressure on the BBC will further increase with the development of a second rival news channel from Rupert Murdoch’s News UK company, likely to be streamed online in a similar way to Netflix
Sir Robbie’s venture comes amid growing tensions between No 10 and the BBC, with Downing Street saying the Corporation speaks only to a ‘pro-Remain metropolitan bubble’ and Boris Johnson accusing the BBC of ‘cringing embarrassment about our history’.
The Government periodically boycotts flagship news programmes such as Radio 4’s Today, while Downing Street is also considering accelerating its plans to decriminalise non-payment of the £157.50-a-year licence fee
Last night a source close to GB News said: ‘The channel will be a truly impartial source of news, unlike the woke, wet BBC. It will deliver the facts, not opinion dressed up as news.
‘Everyone who works for GB News will have total commitment to quality journalism, to factual reporting and to impartiality.’
Broadcasters including Andrew Neil – whose show was axed by the BBC last month – and Julia Hartley-Brewer are understood to have been approached about working for both channels.
A TV insider said: ‘Andrew is due to resume talks with the BBC next week. They need to realise he is not short of options.
‘He is in talks with other broadcasters including GB News and News UK. Andrew would prefer to stay with the BBC.
Broadcasters including Andrew Neil – whose show was axed by the BBC last month – and Julia Hartley-Brewer are understood to have been approached about working for both channels
‘But the BBC needs to come up with the right offer and the right schedule slot. It is all about respect. I don’t think it’s a surprise that he feels that he’s being treated with disrespect.’
David Rhodes, a former executive for Murdoch’s US-based Fox News, is running the News UK project from its London base, under the auspices of chief executive Rebekah Brooks.
Sources close to the project are at pains to deny that it is intended to be a British version of the right-wing Fox News, instead likening it a ‘TV version of TalkRadio, TalkSport and Times Radio’ – all of which are already part of the News UK stable.
Sources close to GB News are also keen to distance themselves from Fox News and from claims that Nigel Farage would be involved.
Sir Robbie, 56, who is understood to have helped raise ‘tens of millions of pounds’ for his new venture, believes that anger over the BBC has created a gap in the market for ‘quality journalism’.
Earlier this month, Sir Robbie, whose brother Nick is a schools Minister, criticised BBC Newsnight’s policy editor Lewis Goodall for writing an article for the New Statesman headlined: ‘Failed. How the Government’s ineptitude created a lost generation’.
Sir Robbie said: ‘Is there anyone more damaging to the BBC’s reputation for impartiality than Lewis Goodall?’
GB News will be run by All Perspectives, linked to US billionaire John Malone, chairman of Virgin Media owner Liberty Global.
Andrew Cole, who is on the board of Liberty Global and is one of the co-founders of GB News, has described the BBC as ‘possibly the most biased propaganda machine in the world’.
Sir Robbie and News UK both declined to comment.