A financial backer of the controversial GB News channel is reportedly considering a bid to buy Channel 4. It could spell disaster for the channel and its output. Moreover, it would represent the continuing creep of modern fascism under the Tories.
GB News: courting the Tories
GB News already needs little introduction. It’s led by ex-BBC host Andrew Neil. The roster of journalists are a Who’s Who of the populist, often far-right wing of UK broadcasting and politics. Byline Times recently and neatly summed up GB News as follows:
It has a £25 million annual budget and will be covered extensively by the dominant right-wing press, which is desperate for content that both drives clicks and affirms a worldview steeped in the ‘culture war’. GB News, in this respect, seems as though it will be a gift for those who seek to promote populism.
Obviously, the Tory government quite like the channel.
Birds of a feather
The National recently reported that culture secretary Oliver Dowden “backed” GB News. This was after the scandal surrounding far-right miscreant Nigel Farage’s comments over the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). As the Herald noted:
the Johnson administration [is] adopting [GB News] as part of the “anti-woke” team.
‘Birds of a feather’ and all that. Because while the Tory government descends into corporate fascism, GB News is cheering it along. For example, bosses reprimanded host Guto Harri after he took the knee live on the channel. Harri soon quit. People have accused other hosts of pushing views that “border on conspiracy theory and misinformation”. And as Byline Times also wrote:
in terms of its supposed balance, the platform has hired two former Brexit Party politicians as presenters, while two senior Conservative Party parliamentarians are shareholders, owning at least £50,000 in shares each.
GB News‘s funders are also dodgy. One of its backers, as The Canary‘s Tom Coburg wrote, is:
Legatum, a Dubai investment firm that via its chair is linked to the Brexit-backing Legatum Institute.
It’s other backer is Discovery, which runs the Discovery and Science channels. And it’s this $11bn “mass media company” that reportedly now wants to get its claws into Channel 4.
A US take-over?
Reuters reported that the US media firm Discovery:
is holding informal discussions about a potential takeover bid for Britain’s state-owned Channel 4 television broadcaster, The Telegraph reported on Saturday.
The potential bid process is being managed by UK Government Investments, the paper reported, adding that a deal was not expected to be completed until the middle of next year.
Privatising Channel 4 has been a long-term objective of the broadcasting minister, John Whittingdale, who first proposed such a move 25 years ago. However, until now the channel has repeatedly managed to successfully fight repeated proposals to sell it to the private sector, most recently in 2017.
A potential catastrophe
Of course, it would suit the Tories to have Channel 4 under the thumb of a populist and right-wing-supporting corporate media empire. Some people have described the current channel as “woke”. One of its bosses publicly called Johnson a “liar” in 2019. And Tory ministers have repeatedly refused to appear on C4 News. So, forcing the channel to toe the government line with its output, by flogging it off, seems pertinent – if you’re a Tory.
The move could potentially be catastrophic. Already, the other public service broadcaster, the BBC, is plagued by claims of pro-government bias and propaganda. ITV and C5 are corporate entities with profit at the heart of their agendas. Now, the last beacon of fairly impartial corporate broadcasting in the UK is under threat. Channel 4 is by no means perfect. But if it’s co-opted by the same agenda as GB News – one which is beyond sympathetic to the Tory government – it will be a disaster for the UK media landscape.
Moreover, it would represent another step in the creeping corporate fascism that Johnson’s administration is ushering in under our very noses. This must be resisted at all costs.
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