Andrew Neil has warned that GB News could “fall into irrelevance and obscurity” in a scathing appraisal of his former employer.
The broadcaster described the newly-launched channel, which he quit in September after a brief spell at the helm, as a “UKIP tribute band”, saying he doesn’t want it to be the“full stop on my career” at anOutside the Box event.
Speaking candidly, Neil said the “shambles of the launch” will haunt GB News for months, having lost many of its founding editors and presenters swiftly.
He said his “fundamental mistake was to get into bed with people who said they shared my vision but didn’t,” people who wanted to take GB News in a Fox News-style direction.
“Putting my name and face on the tin”
Neil’s preference was for GB News to occupy the centre/centre-right space, he added, as he railed against the “metropolitan big city approach” of the other major UK news channels such as BBC News and Sky News.
His other mistake was “putting my name and face on the tin” but “failing to demand more executive power.”
“None of the board knew anything about TV,” he explained. “They had an ideological view of what they should be doing but didn’t know how to go about it. What made it stressful and difficult for me was it was my brand but the tech it was investing in, the people, the studio, weren’t mine. That was a stupid mistake on my part.”
Turning to the general state of UK broadcasting, Neil said Public Service Broadcasters the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 are no longer “fit for purpose” in the modern streaming age due to “structural and institutional” issues.
He pointed to the monstrous budgets of streamers Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon taking advantage of the UK’s talent base, which he said makes Britain a “creative superpower” but is leaving the traditional networks behind.
“The danger we have in broadcasting is that it becomes like Wimbledon: we provide the venue but don’t provide the players,” he warned.
“This is now an aggregation game. Even Rupert Murdoch thought he was too small to survive in the streaming age and Disney bought most of his TV functions.”