Andrew Neil said GB News will “expose the growing promotion of cancel culture” and give a voice “to those who feel sidelined or silenced” as he launched the network with a one-hour special.
The channel, positioned as a rival to the news and current affairs offerings of the likes of BBC and Sky, opened with Welcome To GB News – an hour-long introduction to the presenting line-up.
High-profile signings including former Sky Sports presenter Kirsty Gallacher, ex-BBC presenter Simon McCoy and former ITV presenter Alastair Stewart offered viewers a taste of their respective programmes from various locations around the GB News studio in Paddington, west London.
In his opening monologue, former BBC political interviewer Neil told viewers that GB News would cover “the stories that matter to you and those that have been neglected” and would deliver “a huge range of voices that reflect the views and values of our United Kingdom”.
He added: “GB News will not slavishly follow the existing news agenda. We are not a rolling news channel nor will we be providing conventional news bulletins. But on all of our programmes and platforms you will always know what is going on and what the country is talking about.”
Neil said the network would not be “another echo chamber for the metropolitan mindset that already dominates so much of the media.
“It is our explicit aim to empower those who feel their stories, their opinions, their concerns have been ignored or diminished. We are proud to be British. The clue is in the name.”
Neil said GB News “won’t dwell much on the latest gossip of the Westminster bubble”, adding that it will “puncture the pomposity of our elites in politics, business, media and academia and expose the growing promotion of cancel culture for the threat to free speech and democracy that it is”.
The launch was not without technical issues, with Neil Oliver, known for programmes including Coast and A History Of Ancient Britain, suffering a brief problem with his microphone and the broadcast experiencing some sound issues.
Neil joked: “We are proud to have the king of Scotland in our line-up on GB News and I promise, your majesty, next time we will get you a better microphone.”
Former BBC newsreader McCoy said he would be featuring a section about good news stories that “put a smile on your face”, while his co-host Alex Phillips would host what she described as a “rant” portion.
Introducing his own programme, former executive editor of The Sun, Dan Wootton, said: “We definitely want to do something different. We think there is a huge gap in the market.”
Ahead of the launch, Piers Morgan voiced his support for Neil and GB News’ chief executive officer Angelos Frangopoulos on Twitter.
He wrote: “Good luck to my old mucker @afneil and to @frangopoulos & the whole team on the launch of @GBNEWS tonight.
“Great to see a new TV news network on the airwaves & already making waves.”
Good luck to my old mucker @afneil and to @frangopoulos & the whole team on the launch of @GBNEWS tonight. Great to see a new TV news network on the airwaves & already making waves. pic.twitter.com/SusJXcK2Gj
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) June 13, 2021
Following his departure from Good Morning Britain, reports have suggested Morgan could be another addition to the GB News line-up with Neil saying “any network worth its salt” could find a role for him.
GB News will broadcast seven days a week across the UK and Ireland and will be available globally on digital platforms.
On Friday, the network also announced plans to launch a national radio service as early as next month through a proposed deal with telecommunications company Arqiva.