The Sunday Telegraph

BBC ‘attempted shutout’ of GB News channel

With new network set to launch, corporatio­n ‘is seeking to deny it access footage to events’

- By Christophe­r Williams and Edward Malnick

THE BBC has been accused of an 11thhour “ambush” intended to “damage” today’s launch of the Right-leaning television network GB News.

The corporatio­n is alleged to have been pushing to bar GB News from accessing footage of public events via a “pooling” system run by the country’s three main broadcaste­rs. The move would leave the new channel unable to broadcast many major events where there is only space for one camera.

A GB News spokesman said: “This is an ambush by the BBC designed to damage the launch of GB News and protect their dominance of UK news broadcasti­ng. We will fight it. And our launch continues.”

The move reignites a row that surfaced in 2010 when the Press Associatio­n, the national news agency, complained that it was unable to access footage from “single camera assignment­s” filmed as part of the UK Broadcast Pool, which comprises the BBC, Sky News and ITN. At the time, the

Commons culture committee urged the Government to “ensure the right of access for the Press Associatio­n” alongside the pool camera at national events, “if the members of the broadcast pool are not prepared to make the content available to the Press Associatio­n at a reasonable cost.”

GB News claims the BBC has been pushing for its new rival to be barred from receiving pooled footage from national events under a change to the pool’s rules which would take effect from tomorrow – the first full day of broadcasti­ng for the new channel. It is understood, however, that some members of the pool have expressed a willingnes­s to license pooled material to GB News on “fair” terms. But GB News said it had not received any contact from any of the three broadcaste­rs. It had signed a deal with Reuters for access to clips. A source said the news agency had been made “piggy in the middle” of the dispute. In 2010, Helen Boaden, the then director of BBC News, described the UK Broadcast Pool as an “informal working arrangemen­t whereby the television broadcaste­rs combine their resources to cover events (sometimes very expensive and internatio­nal) in a cost effective way.

Each broadcaste­r either contribute­s equipment or funds, or takes a turn at covering an event for other members of the pool. The number of cameras allowed at events is at the discretion of the event organisers.” A BBC spokesman said: “This is a speculativ­e story and we are not commenting on it.” Sky News and ITN also declined to comment.

GB News presenters will include exBBC interviewe­r Andrew Neil, former ITN newsreader Alastair Stewart, who will present a weekend show; and Simon McCoy, the former BBC and Sky News presenter who will host an afternoon programme with Alexandra Phillips, a former Brexit Party MEP.

Gloria de Piero – the former Labour MP – will present a lunchtime show with Sunday Telegraph columnist Liam Halligan. Neil has said that viewers will benefit from the additional competitio­n that a new broadcaste­r provides for the existing channels. “We are in a competitiv­e environmen­t, they know that,” he said last week. “I suspect [our rival TV channels] will up their game, that’s fine, the only winner is the viewer.”

‘This is an ambush by the BBC designed to damage the launch and protect their dominance. we will fight it’

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