TalkTV is Rupert Murdoch’s chance to seize the UK’s TV screens once again after he sold his stake in Sky in 2018.
He has already signed up big-name talent both on and off screen in Piers Morgan and two of his former Good Morning Britain colleagues.
Comparisons with GB News are already rife but it appears TalkTV is confident it can produce a better launch than its rival – which is led by Angelos Frangopoulos, who was until 2018 the boss at Murdoch’s Sky News Australia.
We have collated everything known so far about Murdoch’s planned TalkTV and will continue to update this page until, and beyond, its launch early next year.
What is TalkTV?
The TalkTV channel will feature “proper” hourly news bulletins, sports and entertainment shows as well as current affairs, debate, opinion and documentaries, News UK has said.
It will use talent and programming from across News UK including the Sun, Times, Sunday Times, Times Radio, Talkradio, Talksport and Virgin Radio to air a mixture of new shows and televised content from these brands.
News UK chief executive Rebekah Brooks said: “We are committed to providing choice for television and streaming viewers and bringing the best of our journalism to the screen.
“Taking advantage of modern technology, we can produce high-quality shows at low cost.”
How can I watch TalkTV?
TalkTV will be available from early 2022 over linear TV, as well as online streaming platforms and News UK’s own websites and apps.
News UK has already soft-launched Talkradio TV on connected TV platforms Samsung TV Plus, Apple TV, Rakuten, Samsung TV Plus, Roku, YouTube and on Amazon Fire TV, streaming live through its own app.
Who are the TalkTV presenters?
News UK said it would hire “exceptional new talent” to front its evening primetime programming.
It has already made a huge deal with Piers Morgan which will see him host a primetime weeknight show on TalkTV as well as Murdoch stablemates Fox Nation in the US and Sky News Australia. He will also write columns for The Sun and New York Post, host true crime documentaries, and publish his next book through Murdoch’s HarperCollins.
Morgan said: “I want my global show to be a fearless forum for lively debate and agenda-setting interviews, and a place that celebrates the right of everyone to have an opinion, and for those opinions to be vigorously examined and challenged.”
Murdoch added: “Piers is the broadcaster every channel wants but is too afraid to hire. Piers is a brilliant presenter, a talented journalist and says what people are thinking and feeling.”
Who are the TalkTV producers?
Two big-name former colleagues of Morgan, who said he wants only “the very best”, have been hired to work with him.
Winnie Dunbar Nelson, who worked with Morgan for almost ten years at Good Morning Britain and CNN, has been named executive editor, TV for News UK Broadcasting. She had left GMB in early 2020 to join NBC but the pair are now reunited.
Another GMB colleague joining Morgan’s team is its launch and series director Erron Gordon, who has been hired as executive creative director and head of studio output for News UK Broadcasting.
Reporting to Dunbar Nelson, Gordon will be series director for Morgan’s show alongside his role leading the creative direction of TalkTV’s programming and channel branding, including set design, on-screen graphics and managing the studio teams.
Gordon said: “There are very few occasions in your career when you get to create something entirely new. TalkTV is one of those opportunities. I’m truly excited about what News UK wants to achieve with the station – and, of course, the opportunity to reunite with Piers on his new global show was impossible to resist.”
News UK is currently advertising for ten roles, mostly to staff Morgan’s primetime show. The roles are all listed as 12-month fixed-term contracts.
They include a series editor, senior planning producer, producer, assistant producer, video editor, social media producer, and writer to work on Morgan’s programme.
The jobs also include an executive producer to oversee TalkTV’s output, a senior producer to work with the series editors, and bookers.
Where will TalkTV be based?
TalkTV will be based at News UK’s London Bridge office, known as The News Building and formerly the Baby Shard. It has been confirmed that Morgan’s show will be filmed here.
News UK has already invested in new TV studios at the site, which are being used for live news bulletins for Talkradio and other ways of visualising its brands.
Who is behind TalkTV?
According to the FT, Murdoch was unhappy with the TV channels on offer in the UK during the Covid-19 lockdown and so decided to launch his own.
Murdoch has a lot of experience with TV, owning Fox News in the US, Sky News in Australia and, until 2018, controlling Sky in the UK for three decades.
Will TalkTV be right-wing?
The exact tone and content of TalkTV has not yet been revealed but the channel is expected to offer a similar political slant to The Sun and Talkradio.
TalkTV will use televised content from across News UK’s existing brands and News UK Broadcasting chief executive Scott Taunton said the company already has “some of the most articulate thought-leaders who reflect many different viewpoints”.
Will TalkTV make money?
Despite plans brewing at News UK to launch a linear TV channel for over a year, it briefly decided to make it streaming only after a review of opportunities in the TV market deemed it to be “not commercially viable”.
Brooks said in a staff memo there was demand for alternative news provision but the “considerable” costs of running a channel meant it would not be worthwhile financially. However the company has now changed its tune.
Rob Keery of marketing agency AIP told Press Gazette: “TV has also never been more accessible than it is now thanks to technology advances,” citing a move towards programmatic advertising that has opened TV up to companies with lower budgets.
“In spite of the pandemic there were over 850 advertisers that spent £50k or less on TV in 2020 – these sorts of budgets would have been unheard of in the past,” he added. “It means that brands who wouldn’t have dreamed of advertising on TV can suddenly level up and find their audience on the biggest screen in the house for minimal outlay.”
He also said TalkTV will “give brands who hesitated to direct ad spend towards GB News a safer home for their ads to appear”.
Media analyst Doug McCabe of Enders Analysis said TalkTV will benefit from being part of a much bigger portfolio, including beyond the UK, compared to GB News.
Picture: News Corp