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April 25, 2022updated 30 Sep 2022 11:16am

TalkTV launch ‘sincerely flatters’ GB News says chairman Alan McCormick

By Charlotte Tobitt

New chairman of GB News Alan McCormick has said staff at the channel should feel “sincerely flattered” by the launch of Rupert Murdoch’s TalkTV.

McCormick was appointed chairman of GB News parent company All Perspectives Limited on Monday. He succeeds Sir Paul Marshall, a prominent hedge fund manager and investor in the channel who agreed to step into the position for six months after the departure of Andrew Neil.

McCormick (pictured) co-founded global investment firm Legatum, which is one of the lead investors in GB News alongside Warner Bros Discovery. He has been a director of All Perspectives Limited since before the channel’s launch.

McCormick’s appointment came on the same day as the launch of TalkTV, which has created three new hours of primetime news programming led by Piers Morgan at 8pm with daily slots also for ex-Sun political editor Tom Newton Dunn and TV personality Sharon Osbourne. TalkTV will also air Talkradio’s daytime programming on screen.

[Read more: Piers Morgan on tabloids, TalkTV, Murdoch and the ‘Markle debacle’]

In a message to staff, seen by Press Gazette, McCormick said GB News was “without doubt the most exciting media start-up in Britain for decades”. Sky News was the last major TV news launch in 1989.

“Only a year ago, we were little more than a dozen staff with a lease on an empty basement. The speed of our growth has been astounding, and unparalleled.” GB News now has almost 200 employees, up from around 140 at launch in June last year, filling its Paddington newsroom which is in the same building as PA Media.

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In February Press Gazette reported that GB News was bouncing back from a rocky start with growing digital numbers including overtaking LBC on Youtube, a new editorial director in ex-Sunday Express editor Mick Booker, new breakfast show hosted by Eamonn Holmes and Isabel Webster and DAB radio launch. It has since joined the BBC, Sky News and ITN’s broadcast pool for political coverage.

McCormick added: “GB News set out to be a disrupter in a staid market. As with most start-ups, the industry’s incumbents did not particularly welcome a challenger to their status quo.

“If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, though, we should feel sincerely flattered. Almost daily, I see examples of establishment broadcasters following GB News’ lead in their style, tone, and programming. Indeed, a whole new channel has come into existence because of us,” he said, referring to TalkTV.

GB News had initially approached Murdoch for his backing, which he gave until he decided to try starting his own TV news channel. Ex-Fox News vice president and CBS News president David Rhodes joined News UK to lead the project but left last year after chief executive Rebekah Brooks decided the project was “not commercially viable” and wanted to concentrate on standalone streaming shows.

However Murdoch then decided to return to the idea of his own network last year having watched Morgan’s public departure from Good Morning Britain and then the much-critiqued launch of GB News.

Morgan told Press Gazette ahead of TalkTV’s launch: “I think he’d [Murdoch] been toying with the idea of launching a new network. And I think he felt that if he could get me over to front it then that would be worth his investment.”

Of GB News, Morgan said: “There’ll be no comparison with what we’re doing to GB News or to anybody else. I think the show I’m doing – because of the fact it’s airing around the world – it’s a very different proposition.

“I think certainly what people will see is the amount of resource put into the studio and all the rest of it. And production is of a higher level than anything you’ve seen on GB News by a country mile… I’ve got nothing against GB News. I had good conversations with them before I signed my deal, and I wish them all the very best.”

McCormick also told staff: “For me, GB News has always been more than an investment. It’s also an inspiration… GB News was born to give a voice to people who struggle to be heard by establishment media, especially in regional Britain. Their freedom, to speak up without being patronised, is a core value for the company, and particularly close to my heart.”

He said he was “confident our next 12 months will be as bold and groundbreaking as our first,” adding: “We may be the underdog among giants, but I’m bullish about our future as a distinct and important voice in British media.

“We have built incredible momentum, winning viewers across the country with our genuinely different, warm, and inclusive approach to news and debate.”

GB News chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos told staff in an email, seen by Press Gazette, that McCormick is a “superb leader in every way”.

Picture: GB News

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