Saturday 26 September 2020 2:17 pm

Andrew Neil to leave BBC and lead new UK TV news channel

Andrew Neil is set to leave the BBC and lead a rival news channel backed by US group Discovery.

GB News plans to launch in early 2021 with Neil as its chair and top presenter.

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The channel is aiming to bring a talk-radio style to the UK “underserved and unheard by their media” and upend the norms of British current-affairs broadcasting, including the BBC.

“GB News is the most exciting thing to happen in British television news for more than 20 years,” said Neil, who will leave his role as a leading political presenter at the BBC.

“We will champion robust, balanced debate and a range of perspectives on the issues that affect everyone in the UK, not just those living in the London area.”

Neil was also the founding chairman of Rupert Murdoch’s Sky TV in 1988.

Discovery has pledged around a quarter of the fundraising target, while GB News is still seeking to raise $55m-$65m to fund the station.

The channel will be hoping to exploit a gap in the market for presenter-driven programming, which has yielded the likes of Fox News so much success after it became the most watched US channel in prime time earlier this year.

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GB News will depart from the format of rolling-news channels and be available to 96 per cent of households through Freeview, Sky and Virgin Media.

It plans to hire around 100 journalists and producers.

The channel is founded by Andrew Cole and Mark Schneider, two businessmen who made their careers in the telecoms and media industry.