Media analysts said GB News faces a bigger long-term challenge: It wants to be treated like a traditional ad-supported news channel, but it presents itself as a politically stubborn fighter in culture wars.
“GB News is positioned along identity lines, but uses the idea of a separation between advertisers and editorial to fight its detractors,” said Meera Selva, director of the Reuters Journalism Fellowship Program at the University of Oxford.
It is also questionable whether GB News is breaking UK broadcasting rules. Several hundred viewers have lodged complaints with the broadcasting regulator, known as Ofcom, after Mr Wootton’s strong criticism of Mr Johnson’s postponed reopening – a harbinger, given he this was the chain’s first night.
Under the regulations, broadcasters are allowed to express opinions, provided there is a rough balance over the course of a day between left and right. Some media experts have said the mix of programming on GB News -om Mr Wootton’s commentary to Mr Neil’s interviews – suggested he was trying to strike that balance.
“They’re not trying to break the rules,” said Stewart Purvis, former editor of broadcaster ITN, who oversaw content and standards at Ofcom. “They’re trying to figure out the rules.
More than a UK version of Fox, Mr Purvis said, GB News was an example of “grievance television”. Its targets are the media establishment, personified by the BBC, and the politically correct constituencies of universities and government. This will appeal to his predominantly pro-Brexit audience, he said. But when Mr. Neil is not on the air, GB News fills the time with much lesser-known personalities.
“What we have never had before on UK television is a succession of young people just talking to each other,” said Mr Purvis. “Whether there is an audience for endless, anti-awakening, joyous discussions is less clear. “
Anna Joyce contributed reporting.