The Daily Telegraph

GB News beats BBC in ratings on opening night

- By Anita Singh Arts And entertainm­ent editor

GB NEWS launched with more than 250,000 viewers and trounced the BBC News channel in the ratings, according to overnight figures.

The opening programme, hosted by Andrew Neil, drew an average audience of 262,000, peaking at 336,000 in its first few minutes. At the same time, BBC News had 100,000 viewers and Sky News had 46,000.

The majority of viewers (82 per cent) were from the ABC1 middle-class demographi­c, according to BARB, a ratings compiler. More than half (52 per cent) of the audience was aged 65 and over, and it was 57 per cent male.

The three-hour programme that followed Neil’s introducti­on averaged 150,000 viewers. GB News executives were said to be pleased with the figures, despite the launch being beset by technical difficulti­es.

In the run-up to the launch, Kay Burley, the Sky News anchor, had suggested that the fledgling channel would be no match for its establishe­d rivals.

When a Twitter user wrote: “Roll on GB News,” Burley replied: “We plan to.” Neil launched his show by setting out the ways in which the channel would differ from other news providers.

“We will puncture the pomposity of our [elites], and expose their growing promotion of cancel culture for the threat to free speech and democracy that it is,” he said.

“We are proud to be British – the clue is in the name.”

The BBC has been accused of trying to damage GB News by allegedly pushing to bar it from the “pool” system by which Britain’s main broadcaste­rs share footage of major events.

A GB News spokesman called it “an ambush by the BBC [to] damage the launch of GB News and protect their dominance of UK news broadcasti­ng”.

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