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The veteran presenter Andrew Neil is highly unlikely to return to GB News, the right-leaning UK television station that he launched, people close to the channel said.
Relations between the 72-year-old broadcaster and its chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos had broken down and Neil was not expected to appear on the station again, the people said. The rift comes as GB News makes a series of changes to its schedule. It has already brought in Nigel Farage, former UK Independence party leader, as a top presenter.
Insiders said there had long been tension between those at the channel who want a right-of-centre yet mainstream alternative to Sky News and BBC News, and others pushing for a more radical platform. Technical glitches and other production problems have caused further friction.
Neil left the BBC last year to chair the channel, whose investors include the US media group Discovery, and present a primetime politics and news programme. Launched in June, GB News promised an anti-establishment spirit and a roster of personality-based shows that would shake up British current affairs broadcasting.
He was founding chair of Rupert Murdoch’s Sky TV in 1988 and editor
of The Sunday Times, who later became one of the BBC’s star political
presenters. Neil’s central role in the GB News project helped convince
other respected broadcasters to become involved, including Alastair Stewart, Simon McCoy and Neil Oliver.
However, the launch of the station was plagued with problems, including camera miscues, spelling errors and awkward on-screen dialogue. Neil took an extended break from his scheduled slot two weeks after the launch.
He had been expected to return on Monday. But The Times reported on Friday that he would not appear next week, and Colin Brazier, the former Sky anchor who has been covering for Neil, tweeted that he would present his colleague’s scheduled show on Monday. This was confirmed by GB News, but it declined to elaborate.
The people said the rift in the channel’s upper echelons about its direction was so serious that it was most improbable Neil would appear on the channel again.
At the time of its launch, Neil said GB News would offer an antidote to what he described as the “metropolitan mindset” of other London-based media. At the same time, he also pledged that the station would be “guided by the highest journalistic standards” and would avoid any association with the far right and disinformation.
The station has been making other changes. This week it said the journalist Isabel Oakeshott would present a new political programme, The Briefing PM, while Sky’s crime and security specialist Mark White had also been hired.
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