View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

GB News editorial chief says channel in biblical fight with TV ‘Goliaths’

Michael Booker said GB News staff need to "double down" on staying within the rules.

By Charlotte Tobitt

GB News editorial director Michael Booker has told staff they need to “work better than ever to make our shows too watertight to attack” ahead of the upcoming general election.

Booker sent a 900-word email missive to GB News staff on Monday morning after Ofcom ruled five of its programmes presented by politicians breached due impartiality rules.

He invoked the story of David and Goliath and other Bible analogies to describe the place of GB News in the UK broadcasting ecoystem.

Booker, who joined GB News from editing the Sunday Express at the end of 2021, told staff “we need to keep pushing to make even better shows and achieve even higher standards and keep defeating giants.

“By sticking to the GB News mission and doubling down on making sure we stay within the rules, we will get there.”

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

He added: “This year we’ve already got our rivals in a spin trying to keep up, left looking and sounding like a confused tower of babble,” a reference to the Tower of Babel story in the Book of Genesis about why the world has so many different languages.

Content from our partners
<a></a>Key ways to futureproof your media career as journalism job cuts bite deep
Slow online ads cost UK publishers £50m a year: Here's how to fix them
Mather Economics and InsurAds combine to help publishers boost revenue

“But this year is an election year, and we will be scrutinised more than ever before.

“And we need to work better than ever to make our shows too watertight to attack.”

Referring to the impartiality section of the Broadcasting Code, Booker continued: “Not even a 20ft Goliath with an unnatural fascination with Section 5 of the Ofcom code should be able to find a crack in our defences.”

GB News first set out its intention to become Britain’s biggest news channel by 2028 early last year. Booker said the broadcaster will continue “taking on the Goliaths of the TV world” to achieve that goal.

Booker also described GB News as a “TV ark… where all perspectives were to be heard”.

“To some it was the saviour of the TV news world,” he said.

“But, as some of you will know, not all saviours are warmly welcomed.”

GB News has said it is “deeply concerned” by Ofcom’s latest ruling against it and it plans to “raise this directly with the regulator in the strongest possible terms”.

It told Ofcom during the investigation process that the regulator’s actions were “unfair” and “disproportionate”. It said the politicians in question – Jacob Rees-Mogg, Esther McVey and Philip Davies – were entitled to present the programmes found to have been in breach because they were current affairs programmes, not news.

Regardless, the broadcaster said, the content itself was sufficiently impartial and it took issue with Ofcom’s claim that news content presented by a politician is “likely to be perceived” to lack due impartiality.

The ruling came two weeks after Ofcom upheld complaints about a “highly personal attack” on a female journalist made by Laurence Fox during Dan Wootton’s GB News show in September under the harm and offence clause of the Broadcasting Code. Ofcom said it has “significant concerns” about the broadcaster’s editorial control of its live output. Neither Wootton nor Fox continue to work for GB News.

The following are extracts from Booker’s email to staff

GB News: Saviour of the TV World

“In the beginning, 1922, to be exact, they created the BBC News.

“And lo, there was the first news bulletins.

“Thirty-three years later, they said ‘Let there be ITN’.  

“And lo, there was a rival to the BBC.

“The late 1980s came and Rupert Murdoch said ‘Let there be Sky News’ … and there was Sky News.

“For more than 30 years nothing much changed in the TV news world. 

“Morning bulletins came and evening bulletins came, and the establishment media and Ofcom looked at them and thought that they were good…

“Then came 2021 and the genesis of GB News.

“Led by an Angel, er, sorry an Angelos, a TV ark was put together where all perspectives were to be heard.

“To some it was the saviour of the TV news world.

“But, as some of you will know, not all saviours are warmly welcomed.

“Indeed, some are smited with swarms of pestilence, plagues of problems, you might say. 

“And that is exactly what faced GB News in those early days…

“…you may not be entirely convinced that the ‘good book’ has any relevance to working on a TV channel…

“But there are stories that we can learn lessons from in TV.

David and Goliath fight

“There’s David and Goliath for instance.

“For those of you that don’t know, Goliath was a Philistine warrior who measured 10ft tall in his sandals.

“The Philistines, famous mainly for their poor taste in music and films, were also notable for their determination to conquer the Israelites.

“Their best, heavily armoured fighter Goliath, who was also a bit of a blowhard, would twice a day pop up on the battlefield and shout his mouth off about how tough he was.

“In broadcasting terms, imagine if Piers Morgan had a show in the morning and evening and you get the general picture.

“Anyway, things were looking pretty bleak for the Israelites when, finally, all that they could muster in opposition was little shepherd boy called David armed with a stick, a sling, and a handful of stones.

“Again, thinking in more understandable broadcast terms, imagine a red, white, and blue-coloured TV station with a plucky team based in a windowless room in west London, going up against the likes of BBC, Sky, ITN and Talk TV every day.

“Despite the odds stacked well and truly against him, David’s well aimed stone to Goliath’s forehead took out the giant and left him victorious.

“The battle was like an olden day’s version of the TRIC awards – only with the victory toast being made with wine fermented in a yak’s stomach. (Although, to be fair, standards at the Grosvenor House Hotel aren’t what they were…)

“I’m sure there are moments when many of you think GB News versus the rest is a modern-day daily version of David versus a series of TV Goliaths.

“But even though its sometimes a tougher job than the one cleaning out the stables on Noah’s Ark, slaying giants is what we do.”

GB News: ‘The greatest story ever told’

“And I’m proud to see you do it daily with hard work, professionalism, and determination.

“But we need to keep pushing to make even better shows and achieve even higher standards and keep defeating giants.

“By sticking to the GB News mission and doubling down on making sure we stay within the rules, we will get there.  

“This year we’ve already got our rivals in a spin trying to keep up, left looking and sounding like a confused tower of babble.

“But this year is an election year, and we will be scrutinised more than ever before.

“And we need to work better than ever to make our shows too watertight to attack.

“Not even a 20ft Goliath with an unnatural fascination with Section 5 of the Ofcom code should be able to find a crack in our defences.

“In the coming days, weeks, months, and years we will keep taking on the Goliaths of the TV world to keep on track to hit our target by becoming Britain’s number 1 news channel.

“No doubt we will have some more tough times ahead. 

“But when we do hit our goal, achieved with a courageous team of ‘David’s’ like you lot, it could arguably lay claim to be the greatest story ever told.”

“Keep fighting.”

Topics in this article : ,

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network