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GB News beats TalkTV to Virgin Media channel slot

·2-min read
CEO of GB News, Angelos Frangopoulos - JULIAN SIMMONDS
CEO of GB News, Angelos Frangopoulos - JULIAN SIMMONDS

GB News has outmuscled Rupert Murdoch's TalkTV to secure a channel slot on Virgin Media that will bolster its fight for viewers.

The fledgling news network will move this month from channel 626 to the more prominent 604 slot on the pay TV operator's channel guide, according to Virgin Media's website.

The move will strengthen its challenge to the BBC by moving GB News closer to the 24-hour news channels of BBC and Sky. The 604 channel sits between Sky News and BBC Parliament, while BBC News HD holds the 601 position.

Analysts have pointed to GB News and TalkTV's less competitive positions on TV channel menus as one of the reasons why they have not amassed bigger audiences.

Losing out to a rival comes as another blow for Mr Murdoch's opinionated news station, which has struggled to dislodge GB News and was forced to cut short its Tory leadership debate after presenter Kate McCann fainted live on air.

TalkTV was in a bidding war with GB News for the higher slot because it holds the 627 position on Virgin Media's channel menu, which places it below international news networks, such as Al Jazeera, CNBC and France 24.

Mr Murdoch, who also owns The Sun and The Times, held talks about investing in GB News but later decided to launch his own upstart channel.

His decision was underpinned by a big bet on the combative presenter Piers Morgan, the former ITV Good Morning Britain presenter who stormed off air last year.

Mr Morgan joined forces with the media mogul shortly after saying he did not believe the Duchess of Sussex when she said she had suicidal thoughts in her US television interview with Oprah Winfrey.

He has been handed a wide-ranging deal with News Corp, the owner of News UK, which includes a column in the Sun and New York Post, a book deal with HarperCollins and contributions to Fox News.

However, TalkTV's shows have been struggling for viewers. The News Desk with Tom Newton Dunn and Piers Morgan Uncensored attracted average audiences of 2,500 and 33,900 in the 7pm and 8pm slots on July 28.

GB News' 7pm show presented by the former UKIP leader Nigel Farage secured 64,000 viewers, while it's 8pm show 46,000 viewers. BBC News brought in an audience of 72,000 and 58,000 across the 7pm and 8pm slots.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Kyle, the former ITV presenter, is poised to replace Mr Morgan on his eponymous show when he takes a break from over the summer to film a series of true crime documentaries as part of his contract with News Corp.

Virgin Media and GB News have been contacted for comment. TalkTV declined to comment.

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