LONDON (AP) – GB News, a British news channel which was launched last month as a right-wing alternative to the BBC and Sky News, announced on Saturday that it had recruited populist politician Nigel Farage as a presenter.
The channel said the former leader of the pro-Brexit British Independence Party will host an evening show that airs Monday through Thursday.
GB News got off to a rough start and began broadcasting in mid-June with a roster including newspaper and TV veteran Andrew Neil and broadcasters recruited from the BBC, Sky and ITV. He vowed to provide an alternative to a so-called “metropolitan elite” bias among established news channels, but denied that it would be a UK equivalent of Fox News.
UK broadcasting rules require news channels to be accurate and unbiased in their coverage.
Hiring Farage, a high-profile but divisive figure who spent years fueling concerns about immigration and later became Donald Trump’s most prominent British supporter, could be a sign the channel is considering putting more money into it. ’emphasis on right-wing politics and “culture war” issues.
At the launch of GB News in June, Neil, who is both president and presenter of the channel, said it would “expose the growing promotion of the culture of cancellation” and give the floor “to those who feel aside or silenced ”.
But his commitment to free speech has been called into question after he censored one of his presenters, Guto Harri, for kneeling this week in a live chat about the anti-racist gesture adopted by the England national football team. His gesture elicited an overwhelmingly negative reaction from viewers.
On Friday, GB News said it had “no corporate line to kneel in” but that Harri doing so on the air “was an unacceptable violation of our standards.”
Harri has not appeared on the air since Tuesday’s incident. British newspapers reported that the channel’s chief news officer, John McAndrew, had resigned. McAndrew could not immediately be reached for comment.
The channel, which was backed by New York-based Discovery and British investor Paul Marshall, among others, also experienced startup issues such as technical issues and saw its ratings drop.
Neil, who took a hiatus from hosting a daily show for two weeks, said GB News “has found its feet.”
“Start-ups are busy and harassing,” he tweeted on Friday. “@GBNEWS is no exception. But the news channel is finding its feet and has a bright future. Watch this place. “