GB News Lost £3 Million Before Launch
Sam Bright tracks the financial fortunes of the right-wing broadcaster
The right-wing broadcaster GB News made an operating loss of £3 million prior to its launch in June 2021, Byline Times can reveal.
New Companies House records show that All Perspectives Limited, the company that owns GB News, logged £3.4 million in operating losses from its incorporation in September 2019 to May 2021.
Some £2.8 million of these losses were incurred from September 2020 to May 2021. GB News Limited, a subsidiary of All Perspectives Limited, recorded an operating loss of £3 million during this latter period.
The records further show that GB News Limited had a staff bill of £918,504 for an average of 16 staff members during the period to May 2021. The All Perspectives Limited staff bill was £718,793 for three staff members on average during the period – equivalent to £239,598 per head.
GB News was established in an attempt to break the dominance of Sky News and the BBC, with its founders claiming that existing broadcasters articulate a metropolitan, liberal consensus on social and political issues.
Former BBC journalist Andrew Neil, who helped to set up the channel, used his opening monologue on GB News to claim that it would “puncture the pomposity of our elites in politics, business, media and academia and expose their growing promotion of cancel culture for the threat to free speech and democracy that it is”.
Neil has since left the broadcaster, claiming that his time on the channel was “the worst eight months of my life” – saying that the stress drove him to tears.
Neil, who lives in the south of France and complained about the size of the private jet that took him to the launch of GB News, was one of several foreign interests involved in the establishment of the platform.
GB News has secured £60 million in start-up funding from Discovery (based in the US) and Legatum (Dubai) – among others – while the directors of All Perspectives Limited are Andrew Cole (based in the US), James Gibbons (Malaysian), Mark Schneider (American), Mark Stoleson (Maltese, based in the UAE), Alan McCormick (based in the UAE), Anil Jingan and Sir Paul Marshall.
This isn’t to say that foreign investment in UK companies is inherently wrong. Rather, there is a hypocrisy in the ethos of GB News, which claims that it stands up for the ordinary, left-behind Brit while soliciting millions from wealthy international investors.
Epitomising this hypocrisy – notably GB News’ claim to represent the views of people outside of the UK’s metropolitan hubs – Bloomberg reports that the idea for the broadcaster was initially conceived by Cole and Schneider at the Petersham Hotel, in London’s Richmond-upon-Thames, taking “inspiration from Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News, which had turned its brand of conservative-led opinion shows into a $5.5 billion a year media colossus”. Fox News is, of course, an American media outlet.
The losses incurred by GB News prior to its launch are understandable – the platform was not yet on air, so its income from commercial sources (aside from venture capital) will have been minimal.
However, the platform evidently seeks to perpetuate right-wing viewpoints, including in the realm of economics. In recent weeks, GB News has played host to shows presented by Esther McVey (a GB News regular) and Philip Davies – two Conservative MPs who are, in fact, partners.
We are unsure how this arrangement conformed to the rules of broadcasting regulator Ofcom, which explicitly states that:
“No politician may be used as a newsreader, interviewer or reporter in any news programmes unless, exceptionally, it is editorially justified.”
Conservative MP Dehenna Davison and former Brexit Party/UKIP leader Nigel Farage are also regular presenters on the channel – not to mention the swathe of hosts and pundits drawn from the right-wing press.
It is therefore ironic that GB News pursues the cause of the ‘free market’ while being insulated from the negative effects of that market through the patronage of rich, ideological investors. Indeed, smaller, progressive organisations without the deep pockets of millionaire benefactors would not have been able to sustain £3 million in operating losses prior to launch.
This situation is replicated across right-wing media, with reports recently indicating that the Sun has lost £50 million in the past year, largely as it was forced to defend costly phone-hacking claims against the newspaper. In June 2021, it was revealed that the paper’s value had been written down to zero.
A GB News representative acknowledged the accuracy of the operating losses noted above, but said that Byline Times’ analysis of the broadcaster’s monetary position was “financially illiterate”.
However, it remains to be seen whether GB News will become a sustainable media project without regular input from wealthy investors. Soon after the channel launched, some of its programmes recorded no measurable audience.
The channel now reaches around two million people each month according to the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board, compared to 15.9 million for the BBC News channel and 10.9 million for Sky News. The figure for GB News is down from 3.7 million during its first month, though up from its lowest monthly total of 1.7 million. GB News now reportedly employs 200 staff.
There was also a campaign to encourage brands and advertisers to boycott GB News, when it first launched, though it is unclear exactly how this has affected the channel’s revenue.