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June 14, 2021updated 30 Sep 2022 10:21am

Ad boycott campaign ramps up as opinion-led GB News launches with scepticism of lockdown and taking the knee

By Dominic Ponsford

GB News launched its opinion-led take on broadcast news and a new website on Sunday, prompting a campaign group to seek to shut it down with an ad boycott.

Google Trends showed a surge in interest for GB News on the search engine with 200,000+ searches yesterday (Sunday) and GB News was also trending on Twitter.

The channel has been widely trailed as Britain’s answer to Fox News.

[Update: Kopparberg, Grolsch and Nivea suspend advertising with GB News]

But interviewed by Press Gazette, GB News director of news John McAndrew said: “My view of our channel, and certainly how it’s going to be, is that it will be a very warm, inclusive channel where disagreements will be had, tough subjects will absolutely be taken on, but they’ll be taken on in a classy and courteous fashion.

“What this won’t be is a hate-filled divisive shout-fest that some people seem to have characterised it as, which is 180 degrees away from where we want to be.”

In terms of its early political positioning some of the channel’s presenters have voiced strong scepticism of “taking the knee” as an appropriate way to demonstrate against racism.

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And showbiz specialist Dan Wootton has written a website comment piece condemning coronavirus lockdowns and urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson to fully open up the UK economy today (Monday) despite surging coronavirus infection rates.

He said: “… the doomsday scientists and public health officials have taken control.

“They’re addicted to the power and the government are satisfied its 15-month-long never-ending scare campaign has suitably terrified the public into supporting lockdowns. But if we don’t fight back against this madness, some of the damage will be irreversible.”

GB News launch Andrew Neil

On taking the knee GB News presenter Inaya Folarin Iman said: “Most ordinary people wouldn’t care but it’s increasingly becoming a way to express your intellectual and moral superiority.

“Many people regard it as divisive… They’re effectively waging a culture war against the fans.”

However fellow presenter Rebecca Hutson said: “I have to say I was very proud to see the boys take the knee yesterday. It made me proud to be British.”

Former leader of the UK Independence Party Nigel Farage was one of the channel’s first guests, fuelling the perception that GB News is seeking to appeal to voters outside London who voted to leave the European Union in 2016.

[Read more: In-depth briefing on GB News]

GB News launch ad boycott

Campaign group Stop Funding Hate has already seen enough of GB News to ramp up its campaign to drive the channel off the airwaves.

It has begun compiling a list of brands advertising on the fledgling channel and it has urged its 120,000 followers on Twitter to exert pressure on them on social media.

Early advertisers included: Octopus energy, Ikea, Deliveroo, Starbucks, Bosch, Co-op and WWF. They are already being targeted by Twitter users who disagree with GB News’ perceived right-wing agenda.

Advertising sales for the channel are being handled by Sky Media.

Stop Funding Hate has previously persuaded brands to withdraw advertising from right-wing newspaper titles such as The Sun and Daily Mail.

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