“We never expected to be cash-flow positive by now,” said GB News CEO Angelos Frangopoulos, “but we have to stop this boycott.”
Frangopoulos was speaking to an audience of marketers and agency executives at the 2022 Campaign Media360 conference. His pitch was straightforward. GB News, he said, is a mainstream and centrist channel which reaches parts of the population who didn’t feel well served by other broadcasters.
During the year in which GB News has been on the air, Ofcom hasn’t once censured it for hateful content, or failure to comply with its due accuracy and due impartiality guidelines, said Frangopoulos. He acknowledged that the channel experienced some technical hitches when it first went on air. But he made clear that its content now rivalled that of its main competitors in terms of quality journalism and production standards.
The channel, said Frangopoulos, now clocks up three million views a month on linear TV. It is approaching 500,000 subscribers on YouTube and is often the number two news channel, behind only the BBC, during the prime-time viewing period. In its first-ever RAJAR ratings, published in mid-May, ‘GB News Radio is the UK's fastest-growing station with 239,000 viewers a week’. “And while our TV demographic skews older, we’re also creating content for a younger audience,” said Frangopoulos. “A hundred thousand people viewed our last TikTok video.”
A perception problem?
The audience posed some challenging questions for Frangopoulos during the Q&A session. Does GB News have a brand-safety problem? “We have a perception problem,” he answered. “But we’re an Ofcom-regulated, mainstream channel. Any advertiser who feels comfortable placing their adverts in a range of print media should feel comfortable advertising on GB News.”
Another attendee claimed that, while it may not have breached any Ofcom regulations, the channel broadcast content that contributed to the creation of a hostile environment for transgender people. Frangopoulos responded, saying that while GB News is home to a range of different perspectives, it hadn’t broadcast content that was hostile to anyone.
“Do you think the boycott would end if you dropped Nigel Farage as a contributor?” asked another member of the audience. “Nigel Farage does four hours a week [out of 126 hours pw of live broadcast],” replied Frangopoulos. He described Farage as an important figure in the media landscape and recent British history, but just one of many voices on GB News. “So, Farage isn’t going anywhere?” asked session moderator Gideon Spanier, Campaign’s editor-in-chief. “No,” was the answer.
“Good journalism is about debate”
Another audience member claimed the channel was “polarising” and questioned whether it could genuinely claim to be “centrist”. “We do see ourselves as centrist,” replied Frangopoulos. “But good journalism is about debate, and we encourage that. And it works. We’re increasingly quoted as a source by mainstream outlets such as The Guardian and Telegraph. We’re now part of the UK Broadcast Pool system, along with Sky, the BBC and ITN.”
“If GB News is a British broadcaster,” one questioner asked Frangopoulos, “why is it that two of your investors live in Malta, one lives in Colorado and you sound as if you’re Australian?” Frangopoulous said this was entirely wrong. “None of our investors live in Malta. I am Australian but my wife is English. This is my home. I am proud to live here. And GB News content reflects the interests of its audience, not its investors.”
Another audience member – while acknowledging Frangopoulos’s courage in facing what the questioner characterised as a difficult audience – asked whether, rather than being centrist, GB News was polarising.
“Polarisation is not part of our value proposition. We’re about open discussion,” said Frangopoulos. “And it’s my pleasure to come here and have this conversation with you. We want to hear you out. But it’s important that you also hear us out, because we reach your consumers. And diversity isn’t just about your skin colour or your sexual orientation. It’s also about things such as where you live and your socioeconomic background.”