GB News hit by more than 350 complaints on launch night

·3-min read
Dan Wootton presents a talk show on GB News
Dan Wootton presents a talk show on GB News

GB News attracted more than 350 viewer complaints on its launch night over comments made about coronavirus on the channel’s flagship show Tonight Live with Dan Wootton

Media regulator Ofcom received 373 complaints on the launch day of GB News directed at the chat show presented by the former executive editor of The Sun newspaper. 

Ofcom said the complaints were focused on “comments made during the programme about coronavirus”, but did not provide further detail about specific concerns.

Mr Wootton launched his show on Sunday with a monologue that took aim at the Government’s lockdown rules ahead of Boris Johnson’s decision to delay lifting Covid restrictions. 

Watch: GB News reads out message from ‘Mike Oxlong’

He said: “Lockdowns are a crude measure.

“Mark my words, in the years to come we will discover they have caused far more deaths and devastation that the Government has ever admitted. 

“They should be wiped from the public health playbook forever more. But tragically, the doomsday scientists and public health officials have taken control. 

“They are addicted to the power and the Government has satisfied its 15-month long, never-ending, scare campaign has suitably terrified the public into supporting lockdowns.”

The complaints figures were published as GB News sought to contain the growing number of advertisers boycotting the station after it became targeted by political activists. 

Vodafone has now joined Kopparberg, the Swedish cider maker, Grolsch, Ikea, the Open University and skin care brand Nivea in suspending advertising ties with the network. Insurer LV=, Pinterest, Specsavers and Octopus Energy also said they would review their advertising. 

Watch: Andrew Neil launches GB News with vow to ‘puncture the pomposity of our elites’

However, some GB News advertisers warned against taking “knee-jerk decisions” following the backlash prompted by Stop Funding Hate, a social media campaign group that has gained prominence by organising boycotts of some national newspapers promoting right-of-centre views. 

The group published a list of GB News advertisers online to rally support behind its efforts to starve the channel of advertising income. 

Andrew Neil, chairman of GB News, tweeted on Tuesday: “Ikea has decided to boycott GB News because of our alleged values. Here are Ikea’s values — a French CEO who is a criminal with a two year suspended jail sentence for spying on staff.”

GB News’ battle to keep other brands on side comes just days after attracting more than 250,000 viewers to its launch on Sunday despite technical problems. 

Advertising sales for GB News are handled by Sky Media, the advertising arm of broadcaster Sky, which negotiates on behalf of its own channels as well as third parties such as Channel 5, Fox and MTV.

Sky Media’s advertising campaigns commonly target specific audiences across a range of channels based factors such as age, gender and socio-economic group. It is understood some brands have been linked to GB News as part of existing deals. 

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