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Lord Vaizey, who was the UK’s longest-serving Culture Secretary, has described the creation of the new TV channel as “a very interesting and exciting experiment”. GB News announced last autumn its intentions to begin broadcasting 6,500 hours a year of “original news, opinion and debate” from spring 2021.
The channel, chaired by veteran journalist Andrew Neil, has said it wants to bring “a fresh approach to news, covering stories and issues that reflect the concerns and conversations of the whole UK”.
Lord Vaizey, who served in David Cameron’s Cabinet between 2010 and 2016, has described GB News as “pioneering” and tipped it to radically shake-up the broadcast industry.
He told Express.co.uk: “Sky News doesn’t have massive viewership but it did change the weather and effectively I think forced the BBC to come up with a 24 hour news channel.
“It may well be that GB new may now change the broadcasting ecology.
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“I have no doubt at all that people at the BBC and ITV will be looking at GB News and thinking should they be putting on programmes that compete. Especially GB News is successful.”
He described the BBC and Sky News as “fairly anodyne” and praised investors behind the new channel for homing in on a gap in the market.
While yet to launch, critics have already compared GB News to Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News channel in the US.
Fox is notorious for its staunch conservative perspective and passionately supported President Donald Trump when he was in office.
Defending the new operation, Lord Vaizey said: “I know a lot of the people behind GB News and I think it’s a perfectly legitimate operation.
“I’m a defender of GB News, people like to paint it as Britain’s Fox News, and some kind of shock jock channel. I don’t think that’s true at all.
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“I think the people behind it have seen how successful LBC has been with opinion led broadcasting and also Times Radio using its journalists and I think they’re pioneering.
“I don’t think you can argue with people like Andrew Neil and John McAndrew who are highly respected news journalists and presenters who are leading this effort.”
Tipping GB News to potentially change the make up of broadcast news if the channel proves to be a success, the peer added the BBC and ITV have been “appalling” in previous attempts to do opinion journalism.
He said: “I think we have an appalling record on the BBC and ITV of doing thoughtful, opinion led programmes, they’re usually absolutely dreadful and attempting to shock and awe.
“They’re normally absolutely rubbish.
“So it will be interesting if GB News helps change the weather on that because perhaps there is an appetite for that, albeit not on 24 hours a day.”
All UK TV channels are bound by strict impartiality guidelines set out by Ofcom the broadcast regulator.
While opinions can be expressed, one side cannot be favoured over another in coverage.
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