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February 8, 2021updated 30 Sep 2022 10:01am

Andrew Neil sets out anti ‘woke’ vision for GB News as channel faces campaign for advertising boycott

By Dominic Ponsford

Andrew Neil set out his anti “woke” vision for GB News on the same day that the channel faced an attempted advertising boycott prompted by campaign group Stop Funding Hate.

Hundreds of tweets have been sent to banks, mobile phone companies and other brands using the hashtag #DontFundGBNews.

Although GB News has yet to broadcast a second of coverage, Stop Funding Hate used articles from the Evening Standard and Guardian, speculating that the channel will be right-wing in the mould of Fox News, to justify its campaign.

Chairman of GB News and presenter of the channel Neil described the “woke warriors” behind the advertising boycott as “hilarious”.

But newspapers on the receiving end of Stop Funding Hate campaigns – which have included the Express, Daily Mail and Sun – have been rattled enough by its impact on advertisers to meet with its representatives.

A Twitter-led advertising boycott helped prompt the closure the News of the World in 2011.

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The Marina Hyde Guardian column quoted by Stop Funding Hate described GB News as “newsotainment” and “anti impartiality”.

GB News hit back at this in a letter, which The Guardian declined to publish, which said: “GB News will be staunchly independent…We are absolutely committed to our mission to report news in the most accurate and balanced way we can.”

Neil set out the channel’s ethos in more detail writing in the Sunday Express, a title which was staunchly in favour of Britain leaving the EU.

He said he has joined GB News because: “I believe the direction of news debate in Britain is increasingly woke and out of touch with the majority of its people.”

He said: “I believe our national conversation has become too metropolitan, too southern and too middle-class.

“Some journalists and commentators seem too confident that their liberal-left assumptions must surely be shared by every sensible person in the land.

“But many of those same sensible people are fed up.

“They feel left out and unheard.

“There’s a restlessness, a sense that they’re being talked down to; that much of the media no longer reflects their values or shares their concerns.

“GB News is aimed squarely at those people.”

[Read more: Everything you need to know about GB News]

He said the channel will appeal to the 80% of Britons who live outside Greater London. Rather than covering rolling news, he said:  “We will build a community, with programmes led by journalists and commentators with warmth, character, knowledge, humour and yes, at times, some edge.

“We will not operate on the assumption that every problem demands a government solution

“Or that every solution must necessarily involve more taxpayers’ money.

“We will even broadcast the good news, perish the thought!

“Seriously, we believe the British appetite for endless gloom, doom, blame and divisive argument is waning.

“People feel battered and exhausted by it.”

He said that GB News will be “proud of our country” but he said: “Above all, we will conform to all the Ofcom rules designed to ensure impartiality and the absence of bias in news broadcasting.

“Facts must be well-sourced and accurate.

“Conspiracy and disinformation will not be tolerated.

“Mistakes will be quickly acknowledged and rectified.”

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