How Laurence Fox set back GB News’s bid to break the ad boycott

Conservative MP Caroline Nokes called for GB News to be taken off air, breaking ranks with other Tories who have previously defended the channel. 

Even GB News’s own presenters have criticised Mr Fox’s comments, with Jacob Rees-Mogg branding them “unutterably disgraceful”.

Yet voices on the right have claimed that calls for the channel to be banned are evidence of left-wing bias among incumbent broadcasters. 

A discussion on the BBC’s Newsnight programme this week involved Nokes, the former Sun editor David Yelland and former Sky News presenter Adam Boulton, who all called for it to be taken off air.

For the TV executive, the saga highlights a lack of experience at the broadcaster.

“Journalism should challenge convention and question the status quo – I’m a big believer in free speech,” the exec says. “But what it reflects is a lack of editorial control over some of the presenters.”

More fundamentally, though, the latest scandal raises serious questions about whether GB News can succeed in the UK broadcasting landscape.

Ofcom, which received 7,300 complaints about the show, has opened an investigation. Yet this is only the tip of the iceberg.

GB News is facing a total of 12 investigations by the regulator relating to, among other things, its failure to provide balance and use of sitting MPs as presenters.

It has been found in breach of broadcasting rules three times already this year and risks fines or – in an extreme scenario – the revocation of its licence.

The incidents have sparked calls for Ofcom to overhaul its impartiality rules amid concerns scandal-prone channel is slipping through the net.

The watchdog is next week expected to name a replacement to Kevin Bakhurst, its former head of broadcasting. Managing a response to GB News – and a potential overhaul of regulation – will likely be top of his successor’s agenda.

So as advertisers reconsider their relationships, and the threat of tighter regulation looms, GB News is facing fundamental questions about its future direction.

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