Recently launched British conservative free-to-air channel GB news saw viewership for some of its programs dip to zero after viewers boycotted it.
The boycott came after a presenter took the knee, a move associated with anti-racism efforts.
Guto Harri, former BBC journalist and director of external affairs for British PM Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London, co-hosts a news show on the channel.
Harri took the knee in solidarity with the English football team – who experienced racist abuse after their loss in the Euro 2020 grand final – live on air.
Incensed viewers then called for a boycott of the program over Harri’s gesture, which was labelled ‘woke’ and, as put by one viewer ‘lefty shite’.
GB News itself has posted contradictory messages about taking the knee.
They tweeted saying, “GB News stands four square against racism in all its forms. We do not have a company line on taking the knee. Some of our guests have been in favour, some against. All are anti-racist. We have editorial standards that all GB News journalists uphold.”
However, that tweet was then followed by another calling Harri’s move an “unacceptable breach of our standards”.
GB News’ ethos is that they promote ‘free speech’, something Harri used to justify taking the knee.
While the correlation between taking the knee and viewership is unable to be definitively confirmed, ratings agency Barb recorded that a number of the channel’s shows had zero viewers in the wake of the incident.
A 1pm to 1.30pm Wednesday show featuring former Labour MP Gloria De Piero and Liam Halligan, the channel’s business editor, had “no measurable audience”. As pointed out by The Guardian, the same timeslot on BBC News had 62,000 viewers and on Sky News had 50,000.
The same occurred during a 5pm show by ex-UKIP spokesperson Alex Phillips and ex-BBC presenter Simon McCoy.
Welsh publication Nation.Cymru has also pointed out that some of GBNews’ figures were lower than broadcasts of the Welsh language version of children’s program Paw Patrol.
Despite launching to 336,000 viewers – beating both BBC News and Sky News – GBNews has seen its figures reduce. A number of advertisers, including furniture brand IKEA and cider brand Kopparberg, have withdrawn ads from the channel.
GBNews has not yet confirmed whether Harri will remain on the channel.
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