Andrew Neil leaves BBC to launch new UK news channel

2 months ago 9

Veteran broadcaster and newspaper editor Andrew Neil has split with the BBC to launch a new rolling news channel to rival the corporation.

The 71-year-old’s decades-long stint on the broadcaster’s Westminster programming - most recently presenting Politics Live and the Andrew Neil show - saw him become a household name for his forensic interview style and commanding monologues.

However Mr Neil has announced he will be leaving the broadcaster to launch GB News - a 24 hour news channel that seeks to rival Sky and the BBC with coverage aimed at those who feel "underserved and unheard by their media", to launch early next year.

Mr Neil, who was a founding chairman of Sky TV in the 1980’s, will serve as both chairman of the new offering and as a host on a flagship evening programme in primetime, leading the programming line-up.

He said: "GB News is the most exciting thing to happen in British television news for more than 20 years.

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"We will champion robust, balanced debate and a range of perspectives on the issues that affect everyone in the UK, not just those living in the London

Founded by Andrew Cole and Mark Schneider, the channel is reported to be inspired by the formula deployed by the likes of US broadcaster Fox News, where presenter-driven programming and right-leaning politics has led to leading audience shares.

Rupert Murdoch, who appointed Mr Neil as editor of The Sunday Times in 1983, is also reported to be planning the launch of a TV station.

Mr Neil said: “We've seen a huge gap in the market for a new form of television news.

"GB News is aimed at the vast number of British people who feel underserved and unheard by their media."

The BBC had previously confirmed Mr Neil’s self-titled show would not return to the airwaves after its run was disrupted by the pandemic. The announcement came at a time of cuts to the broadcaster’s staff, with politics programming a particular focus for redundancies.

In a statement the corporation thanked Mr Neil for his service.

A spokesperson said: "We'd like to give our heartfelt thanks to Andrew for his many years of work for the BBC, during which he's informed and entertained millions of viewers.

"From his early broadcasting days on Despatch Box in the 1990s to his recent forensic and agenda-setting political interviews, be has proved a formidable and hugely talented broadcaster.

"For years, he was at the heart of the irreverent and much-loved This Week and played a key role in the Daily and Sunday Politics, Politics Live and the BBC's general election coverage.

"We wish Andrew every success in his new role; we're sorry the US election coverage will be his last BBC presentation work for the foreseeable future but he will always be welcome at the BBC."

In a statement posted on Twitter, Neil said he left the BBC with "no animosity or desire to settle scores”.

"Despite sterling efforts by new [Director General] to come up with other programming opportunities, it could not quite repair damage done when Andrew Neil Show cancelled early summer + Politics Live taken off air.” he added.

"But I leave with no animosity or desire to settle scores. I look back on my 25 years doing live political programmes for the BBC with affection.

"And gratitude for brilliant colleagues at Millbank, who always made sure I went into the studio fully briefed and equipped for the fray.

"They were/are the best of the best. If they can make me look good, they can make anybody look good."

Additional reporting by agencies

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