And where FIVE’s introduction of “news on the hour, every hour” was perhaps some kind of pre-cursor to the proliferation of rolling TV news coverage we are accustomed to today – two decades later, GB News launches to actively regress from rolling news. In looking to mirror aforementioned US broadcasters, Neil comments “They don’t do rolling news. They do news when it breaks, but they don’t do continuous rolling news. They segment the day into individual programmes, news-based programmes, built around very strong presenters, or anchors as they call them in the United States, and that is what we will do too.”
But what both channels stated in their plans is to rejuvenate and re-energise UK TV news – breathing excitement into broadcasts. On launch, FIVE stated that “news is exciting, its new, its true, its different, its dynamic, its always changing – if its presented in an exciting way, it will be accessible to more people.” In adopting a similar ethos, GB News will use its star-studded cast of presenters to sit at the heart of its schedule – beyond just Andrew Neil, the channel will feature Colin Brazier, Kirsty Gallacher, Simon McCoy, Dan Wootton and Alastair Stewart amongst its star-studded cast to attract audiences. Rumours continue to grow that Piers Morgan is the next to join. This is all part of how Neil believes GB News will bring about change – he says that GB News will have “Anchors with a bit of edge, a bit of attitude, bit of personality – and people will make an appointment to view them. That’s the plan.”
I’m sat watching the Beeb’s coverage of Duke of Edinburgh’s passing today as I write this. One can’t help but feel that Auntie’s coverage is, at the very least, repetitive – with the same cyclic B-roll alongside recurring commentary from Nicholas Witchell. When considered alongside Andrew Neil’s vision for what news coverage could look like instead, does what we’re watching today serve to question if UK TV is indeed ripe for another revolution as to how significant news items are covered on British television?
Even though its unlikely many would consider FIVE as eventually holding a ground-breaking role in the history of TV news, the channel in its infancy certainly had a credible ambition and vision – they wanted to “offer something you wouldn’t find elsewhere in British television”. There’s palpable hype in the British media that GB News is setting out to achieve something similar. Whether this transpires, remains to be seen.