Guto Harri suggests GB News has ‘no long term future’ following Andrew Neil exit
Guto Harri has suggested that GB News does not have a “long term commercial future” following the departure of Andrew Neil.
The Welsh broadcaster said the so called ‘anti-woke’ channel was too “narrow in its appeal in the wake of Neil resigning as its lead presenter and chair.
The ratings of the beleaguered channel have plummeted since it first went on air in June.
Ex-BBC host Andrew Neil left after presenting just eight programmes in three months.
It is believed he was unhappy with technical mistakes, the loss of top staff and its political direction as it moves to focus more on culture war issues.
Harri quit GB News after he suspended for taking the knee on air during a discussion about racism towards England’s black footballers.
But he said he was unlikely to repeat the anti-racism gesture on the S4C politics programme he hosts, Byd yn ei Le.
Guto Harri told Newyddion S4C: “It’s very hard to imagine that there is a long term commercial future for a channel that’s so narrow in its appeal.”
He added: “I don’t think I’ll go on my knees in the Byd yn ei Le studio, but I did that with GB News.
“They weren’t quite as enthusiastic about freedom of expression as they’d declared as a channel, and we’ve all seen it go to rack and ruin to some extent since then.
“The raison d’etre of GB News was to encourage debate and everybody who was part of that programme knew what was going to happen.
“They believed it was a good thing, they took the clip, they promoted it, therefore they obviously didn’t think there was anything wrong at the time.
“But the reaction among what is perhaps a less open-minded audience than expected for GB News wasn’t very positive.
“If it was just me who’d left perhaps I’d reflect, but Andrew Neil has left, the head of news has left, and a host of other people have left.
“There was an attempt to try to do something more innovative and unfortunately, and you know in the end it’s sad that they’ve decided to go for a small narrow audience that’s quite nasty in the end, instead of trying to something that was open-minded and innovative.
“But there’s nothing wrong with trying to do that I think.”
Addressing Neil’s departure in an internal email to staff, the station’s chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos said: “I know many of you will feel incredibly disappointed by this, as I do. Andrew joined GB News 12 months ago and signed a multi-year contract so we hoped he’d stay longer.”
In a statement on his departure Andrew Neil said: “I am sorry to go, but I have concluded that it is time to reduce my commitments on a number of fronts.
“Over the summer I’ve had time to reflect on my extensive portfolio of interests and decided it was time to cut back.
“I wish GB News well in continuing to fulfil its founding promise and mission to reach audiences currently underserved by existing news broadcasters.”