• Thu. Jul 29th, 2021

GB News drafts in Nigel Farage to halt ratings freefall

ByAmeerah O'Connor

Jul 17, 2021
GB News drafts in Nigel Farage to halt ratings freefall

Nigel Farage in the stands ahead the Euro 2020 Final at Wembley

Nigel Farage has been drafted in to help save GB News, as the new channel attempts to reverse plummeting ratings.

The former Brexit Party leader will host a primetime show from Monday to Thursday at 7pm, starting next week.

Other shows will be trimmed back so he will not replace any current presenters.

“I will not be taking the knee on this show,” Mr Farage tweeted.

His arrival on a permanent basis at the station comes days after the broadcaster’s director of programming reportedly quit, hours after a presenter was pulled off air for taking the knee in an anti-racism gesture.

The row prompted fears of a viewer boycott, with Barb TV ratings showing figures had slumped to “immeasurably” low levels the next day for some of its staple shows.

It was the latest in a string of problems to blight the broadcaster, from technical failures to low viewership, since it launched in June railing against cancel culture.

It is Mr Farage’s first broadcast venture since he parted ways with the radio station LBC last summer following a backlash over his comments about the Black Lives Matter group.

The Nigel Farage Show had been on air for three years and hosted a phone-in for callers to vent about political topics.

Since then, Mr Farage, 57, rebranded the Brexit Party as Reform UK to focus on an anti-lockdown message, before announcing his retirement from politics and stepping back as its leader in March.

On Thursday, GB News suspended the presenter Guto Harri, a former adviser to Boris Johnson, for taking the knee live on-air on his show in solidarity with England footballers who have suffered racist abuse since their Euros defeat.

Guto Harri taking the knee on GB News after the England team suffered racist abuse

Guto Harri taking the knee on GB News after the England team suffered racist abuse

Harri provoked outrage from viewers when he said he had “underestimated how close to the surface the racism still was” after seeing the online abuse Marcus Rashford and other England players had received.

The station said the gesture was an “unacceptable breach of our standards”, but Harri defended his actions, insisting taking the knee was “not woke and not Stalinist”.

Speaking on air, Harri said: “I actually now get it and so much so that I think we should all take the knee. In fact, why not take the knee now and say: ‘it’s a gesture, but it’s an important gesture’.

“And it’s not about me in this studio, but for them to do that as players on the field makes sense.”

He later wrote online: “GB News is – above all – about free speech; having the debates others won’t.”

GB News said in a statement about the incident: “We let both sides of the argument down by oversimplifying a very complex issue.”

Shortly after, The Guardian reported that John McAndrew, GB News’ respected director of programming, had quit after coming under pressure to focus output on culture wars topics. GB News declined to comment on the matter.

It comes after GB News chairman and presenter Andrew Neil, the outlet’s leading presenter and chairman of the channel’s board, announced he would be taking a break from GB News.

This came just two weeks after launching the venture with an opening monologue promising to “expose the growing promotion of cancel culture”.

He later defended the channel’s rocky start, tweeting: “Start ups are fraught and fractious. @GBNEWS is no exception. But the news channel is finding its feet and has a great future. Watch this space.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *