Veteran British broadcaster Andrew Neil said on Friday he is leaving the BBC and set to spearhead the launch of a new 24-hour television news channel in the UK.
The respected political interviewer said the channel, to be named GB News, would hit the airwaves in early 2021 and offer “new perspectives to the news” in Britain.
“GB News is the most exciting thing to happen in British television news for more than 20 years,” he said, adding it was “aimed at the vast number of British people who feel underserved and unheard by their media”.
“We will champion robust, balanced debate and a range of perspectives on the issues that affect everyone in the UK, not just those living in the London area.”
Neil added in a series of tweets that he would be presenting a new nightly prime-time show on the channel.
The Spectator magazine, published by Press Holdings Media Group which Neil also heads, reported GB News will employ around 100 journalists and be “the most important television launch in Britain for a generation”.
The Spectator’s editor Fraser Nelson said in a column that the channel would take on Britain’s current 24-hour news stations, BBC News and Sky News, which were “so similar in tone and format that there’s space for a bit more diversity”.
He added GB News was trying to raise between $55 million and $65 million, with US multinational Discovery Inc already in place as the lead investor, “stumping up about a quarter of the cash”.
The channel will be advertiser-financed and available for free as part of TV packages offered in the UK by companies like Sky, Virgin Media and Freeview, according to Nelson.
Its founders are widely reported to be media executives Andrew Cole and Mark Schneider, while its management team will include veterans of Sky Australia and the UK’s Sky News channels.
Cole said on his LinkedIn page that GB News was owned by All Perspectives, a company he had co-founded and would be expanding across markets in the European Union and North America.
Neil, a former editor of the Sunday Times, has enjoyed a decades-spanning career broadcasting on the BBC, becoming a household name for his tough interviews of the Britain’s top politicians.
The BBC said in a statement that it wished Neil “every success in his new role” and that “he will always be welcome” back at the broadcaster.