I should be the ideal target for Andrew Neil’s new GB News which launched last night. I am right of centre, think the BBC is a disgrace, Channel 4 is fake news and that ITV is woke nonsense whose reporting of Trump should have been an imprisonable offence. And for that reason gave up on TV news a while back. But I did not watch GB News last night. And I doubt I ever will. Despite its celebrating winning the ratings war, here’s a secret: I am far from alone. Here are the stats GB News is celebrating:
BARB Data 1900-2300
#1 GBNews 164.4k 1.1% share
#2 BBC News 133k 0.9% share
#3 Sky News 57k 0.4% share
One suspects that the launch night may be the best night for a while. At least some of those watching will have been lefty haters of the channel trying to find advertisers than can threaten to boycott, so, my guess, is that by tonight the GB News channel will be running below BBC News or at least close to it. But look again at those numbers.
There are 66.65 million folks in the UK so that means 66.3 million of us were not watching any of those news channels last night, we were doing something more interesting. In the media and Westminster bubble, folks on left and right are frothing about how awful/wonderful the new channel is as if Mr Neil and his colleagues have somehow changed the world.
But the reality is that 99.5% of the population don’t give a dam. I am prepared to bet that more of us were doing what I did yesterday evening, that is to say watering the garden, than watching any of these channels.
While Mr Neil’s admirers seem to think that his channel is breaking the mould, its presenters have all spent their working lives inside the media bubble, earning fat salaries, living an existence utterly removed from that of most of us. Sure, they might not bow down before the woke altar, sure they may be lockdown sceptics but they are still of the media world. Like most folks, I am not sure I really care what they think. No. That is a lie. I am sure. I don’t give a damn what they think. I am adult enough to assess the facts for myself and arrive at my own conclusions without having to wait to hear what Nigel Farage doing an impression of a pub bore or that chap from ITV sacked for quoting “racist” Shakespeare, think first.
And then there is the dust-covered TV. I used to watch old detective shows on channel 10 but after the nth re-run that got a little dull. The truth is that I have barely watched TV all year. I am only half-joking when I suggest that we should get rid of it altogether. Joshua, who is addicted to mindless cartoons, reacts as if I am suggesting the slaughter of the firstborn. But both the Mrs and I watch almost nothing these days. There are far better ways to fill the remainder of our lives.
So, I did not watch GB News last night. I made elderflower cordial, picked weeds and my first strawberry, mowed the upper orchard, watered the orchard and garden, read Joshua another chapter from Little House on the Prairie and cooked supper. Why would I want to watch anything on TV, let alone a channel with fewer viewers than there are people in Bolton?