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Andrew Neil leaves BBC to launch new rolling news channel

Andrew Neil on the BBC's Politics Live - Credit: BBC

Andrew Neil is leaving the BBC to launch a 24-hour, TV channel to rival rolling news from his former employers at the BBC and Sky.

The veteran presenter of political programmes will become the face of GB News, “Britain’s news channel”, aimed at those who feel “underserved and unheard by their media”.

The channel – set to launch next year – will be backed by global media and entertainment company Discovery, Inc.

At a time when the BBC and commercial media companies are cutting jobs, GB News said it hopes to create at least 120 positions.

They include more than 100 journalists in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and will feature more than 6,500 hours of content a year, made exclusively for the channel, which has secured broadcasting licences from Ofcom.

It has been founded by media executives Andrew Cole and Mark Schneider.

They said: “Andrew Neil epitomises what GB News is all about.

“He’s an exceptional journalist, brilliant interviewer and fearlessly independent.”

They plan for the channel to reach 96% of British television households via Freeview, Sky and Virgin Media, broadcasting seven days a week across the UK and Ireland.

Former Sky News executive editor John McAndrew will be director of news and programming and ex-Sky News Australia chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos has been appointed chief executive officer.

As well as being appointed chairman, broadcaster and former Sunday Times editor Neil will host a flagship evening programme in primetime, leading the programming line-up.

He said: “GB News is the most exciting thing to happen in British television news for more than 20 years.

“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.”

The BBC thanked Neil for his work at the corporation and wished him luck in his new role.

A statement said: “We’d like to give our heartfelt thanks to Andrew for his many years of work for the BBC, during which he’s informed and entertained millions of viewers.

“From his early broadcasting days on Despatch Box in the 1990s to his recent forensic and agenda-setting political interviews, be has proved a formidable and hugely talented broadcaster.

“For years, he was at the heart of the irreverent and much-loved This Week and played a key role in the Daily and Sunday Politics, Politics Live and the BBC’s general election coverage.

“We wish Andrew every success in his new role; we’re sorry the US election coverage will be his last BBC presentation work for the foreseeable future but he will always be welcome at the BBC.”

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