Media News and Media Moves – 7th September 2020
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Fox News UK
British audiences could soon tune in to ‘Fox News UK’ as two groups race to establish an opinion-led current affairs TV channel. Ofcom has awarded a broadcast licence to ‘GB News’, a new channel that promises to be ‘distinctly different from the out-of-touch incumbents’. Elsewhere, former Fox News executive David Rhodes is also working up ideas for a similar project, with Rupert Murdoch’s backing. Guardian Media Editor Jim Waterson suggests that both are ‘pitching to a perceived gap in the market for opinionated video output fuelled by growing distrust of the BBC’.
We asked Lexington’s Senior Counsel Paul Harrison to weigh in on the story:
“Readers of this newsletter will no doubt welcome more rolling news for purposes of infuriation / edification (delete as appropriate) soon becoming available. GB News, a channel being set up in part by my former No 10 colleague, Robbie Gibb, has been granted an Ofcom licence and takes to the airwaves next year. What effect does that have? Well, I think any billing as a UK version of Fox News is overstated – broadcast impartiality rules prevent that in this country anyway. The real question is whether GB News’ more opinionated, personality-led style will draw the viewers, and inevitably any success it has will play into the ongoing debate about the future of the BBC. What will No 10 think? They’ll judge it on the tone of the politics coverage and the viewing figures. But it’s another outlet to deal with – and given the advent of Times Radio, spare a thought for Ministers doing broadcast rounds…”
XR: protest or censorship?
Extinction Rebellion protesters blockaded News UK printing presses over the weekend in protest at its titles’ coverage of the climate crisis. The delivery of 1.5 million newspapers, including The Sun, The Times and other non-News UK papers, was delayed as a result. Boris Johnson said the action was ‘completely unacceptable’ and that ‘a free press is vital in holding the government and other powerful institutions to account…’.
While the Daily Telegraph is not part of News UK, its editor Chris Evans announced on Twitter that the paper would be removing its online paywall for the weekend in support of democracy and a free press.
New boss @ the Beeb
Incoming BBC Director General Tim Davie used his inaugural speech to tell staff that if they wanted to be ‘an opinionated columnist or a partisan campaigner’ on social media, then they ‘should not be working at the BBC’. Telegraph TV Editor Chris Bennion has pointed out that BBC big-names, including Gary Lineker who revealed last week that he will be housing a refugee in his home, should heed Davie’s warning about campaigning online, or risk losing their jobs. Davie added that he wanted staff to ‘spend more time outside the BBC listening to those who pay for us’ and outlined his four priorities for the broadcaster: impartiality, focus on high-impact content, online content and building a commercial income.
City A.M. stays online
City A.M. has delayed the return of its free print edition due to a lack of commuters. The daily business newspaper was due to resume on 7 September, but has now been pushed back until October. Before March, City A.M. distributed around 85,000 copies daily, but advertisers have reportedly been reluctant to pay for print ad space as many people continue to work from home.
Alex Wickham has started his role as POLITICO’s London Playbook Editor.
Jack Blanchard, who was formerly London Playbook Editor is now POLITICO’s UK Political Editor.
Emma Barnett will present BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour following the departure of Jane Garvey and Jenni Murray. A second presenter has not yet been announced.
Asa Bennett is leaving the Daily Telegraph to join the Department for International Trade as Chief Speechwriter.
Anna Mikhailova has joined The Mail on Sunday as Deputy Political Editor.
Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe is now Acting Political and Diplomatic Correspondent at the Financial Times, covering for Laura Hughes while she is on maternity leave.
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