Review: GB News

GB News has been talked about a lot recently, both in the press, and within online forums. Much fuss has been made about various technical difficulties, and a seemingly endless run of schedule changes. A recent switch to free-to-air satellite has allowed me to sample the station for the first time, and what follows are my initial impressions.

Largely, my viewing has taken place at evenings and weekends. I seem to land on Dan Wootton Tonight a lot of the time, but I have also seen parts of shows fronted by Alistair Stewart and Neil Oliver, amongst others.

I’ll get the technical difficulties dealt with first. Apart from one occasion where the weather graphics were out of focus, technical issues have been largely non-existent. On screen graphics are sharp and easy to read, the studio sets appear well put together, and lighting is also good. This would suggest that initial technical difficulties have been overcome.

Adverts are shown in a frame, to allow for the scrolling ticker to be shown whilst retaining advert small print. The ticker itself is clear and easy to read, and sits nicely on the bottom of the screen. I actually prefer the GB New ticker to the one found on Sky News, and the ‘flicker’ type headline display of the BBC News channel.

Although a nightmare for those with older, non-compatible satellite equipment, I admire the channels commitment to HD picture quality, albeit the channel is still standars definition only on terrestrial Freeview. That being said, I wouldn’t have minded if the channel was standard definition only, as I don’t feel picture quality is that important for a news based channel. The new DAB+ radio service, although using only 24 kbps, is also of satisfactory quality, with initial observations suggesting slightly better sound quality than LBC News.

Programmes itself, although being news/topical based, are more of opinion rather than news, but regular news bulletins are now present that. That being said, opinions are clearly marked as such, with little no attempt made to pass over opinions as facts. Some programmes, including Dan Wootton Tonight, open with a monologue delivered by the presenter, but again all opinions are clearly marked as such. These monologues do appear to set up the topics of conversation quite well.

So in summary, perhaps the name GB Opinion would have been more appropriate. That said the channel does offer something different, and the widespread availability means most people should be able to access the service. Scores on the doors, 6 out of 10.

GB News Radio Launching in January

GB News, the recently launched news based opinion channel, has now confirmed its plans for a radio based version of the channel.

The broadcaster has announced that GB News Radio will launch on the 4th January 2022, coinciding with a new presenter line up for the brreakfast show. GB News Radio will largely be an audio only simulcast of the TV station, albeit with advertising better suited to the audio only nature of the radio service.

Ahead of the launch, GB News Radio has been added to the D1 National DAB multiplex, and is broadcasting in mono at 24 kbps DAB+. The station is using capacity vacated by UCB1 reducing its bitrate, and capacity made available by the cessation of traffic info data services previously carried for satnav systems.

At present GB News Radio is broadcasting test transmissions consisting of a promotional loop. Though not directly observed, reports suggest that this makes no mention of a launch date. Reports also suggest that trials of different adverts have been conducted using the online stream of the channel, presumably testing the ability to have different adverts on different platforms ahead of the launch of the radio service.

GB News is currently available on free-to-air satellite (including Freesat and Sky), Virgin Media (cable), and the UK terrestrial platform Freeview. The addition of the DAB+ radio service will further widen the reach of GB News, improving access to GB News when on the move.

Channel Numbers Confirmed for GB News

The full set of channel numbers for GB News has now by confirmed.

On the Sky satellite platform, GB News will be on 515, aquiring that number from Nigerian news channel TVC News. On the Virgin Media cable platform, GB News will be on number 626. This is in addition to the already confirmed channel numbers 216 for Freesat, and 236 for Freeview.

On Freeview, GB News will be in standard definition, while on all other platforms the channel will be in high definition (HD) only. For satellite viewers, this means users of non-HD devices will be unable to watch GB News.

The channel will launch on Sunday 13th June at 8am, with special programming to mark the launch.

GB News Channel Numbers

GB News, the upcoming new news channel, has now confirmed its channel numbers for Freesat and Freeview.

On Freeview, the channel will be on 236, below the current news channels, and is the COM6 multiplex which offers a coverage area of around 90%. The channel is broadcasting an information slate ahead of launch.

On Freesat, the channel will be on number 216, and will broadcast in HD. It is unclear whether a standard definition (SD) simulcast will be offered for those with older equipment. Like with Freeview, GB News will appear below existing news channels on the EPG.

Sky and Virgin Media channel numbers are yet to be confirmed. For Sky, GB News has the option of buying a channel number from an existing broadcaster, so may appear in a more prominent position on the EPG.

More Details Revealed on GB News

GB News, the proposed new news channel with backing from Discovery, will be on all major UK TV platforms, including terrestrial (Freeview including YouView based platforms), satellite (both Freesat and Sky), and cable (Virgin Media).

Infrastructure provider Arqiva has been selected to deliver the channel, and will oversee the launch and manage programme delivery. The channel should reach 96% of households in the UK.

A proposed launch date has not yet been revealed, but the channel is expected to launch this year (2021).

GB News to Challenge Sky and BBC

Andrew Neil, a former BBC journalist and broadcaster, is to launch a new 24 hour news channel called GB News. The channel will rival long established BBC News and Sky News, and will be on all major platforms, although exact platform availability is yet to be revealed.

Andrew Neil has been appointed chairman, and will also host a flagship programme. The management team will also include Angelos Frangopoulos (ex Sky Australia) and John McAndrew (ex Sky News).

Discovery has been named as the lead investor of the channel, which is expected to launch in 2021.