Inside the fundamentals of GB News

Future News 59

Building shows around opinionated hosts and their teams is very much the play of the UK’s next news channel. GB News will launch early next year after completing a funding round led by Discovery (which has a market cap of more than $10bn) next month and having nabbed Spectator boss Andrew Neil, who co-founded Sky TV, off the BBC. 

The Scotsman told Sky News recently that the $55m to $65m reported target wasn’t far off the actual amount the channel is looking to raise, although it’s in sterling rather than dollars. As for other public information about and around GB News it’s fairly light for now. 

But based on the outlet’s plan to hire 100 journalists across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, we can attempt to deduce that the employee salary bill (never mind other forms of remuneration) could be up to £3.6m per year based on an average BBC wage of £36,000

That is without taking into account management, with the current set-up of Neil as Chairman, former Sky News Australia CEO Angelos Frangopoulos as CEO, Marc Schipper as COO and Former Executive Editor at Sky News John McAndrew as Director of News and Programming. 

Big name talent, meanwhile, will also come at a price, something the BBC Annual Report can shed some light on with on-air salaries ranging from £150,000 to around £400,000

GB News will need some well-known faces if it really wants to go down the route of the monologue-loving MSNBC or Fox News, where hosts even have their own sponsors. The good news is that the UK’s most popular TV personality is a newsman, Trevor McDonald, but then you have to go all the way down the list to 21st place to get to the next best, Fiona Bruce. 

We know that the channel will air 24/7 across the main providers, including Virgin and Sky, but its digital offering is unknown. This is increasingly important for the prized 16 to 35-year-old demographic and something the US shows GB News is attempting to emulate are conscious of otherwise they wouldn’t produce standalone content for YouTube, by way of example. 

We also don’t know who else, beyond Discovery, is backing the project and how far along the road they are with their recruitment drive. More announcements are expected though. 

📈 Earnings, funding and M&A

  • Axios will reportedly turn a profit next year as the outlet continues to expand. The publication is now launching newsletters across regions of the US and, as FB 58 reported, is hiring across the board. All good news for Axios investors, including The Atlantic, Glade Brook Capital Partners LLC and Greycroft.

  • Daily Mirror and Daily Express publisher Reach said in its HY Results that it was “performing materially ahead of market expectations” for the year to December thanks to a “strong recovery” in digital advertising. Statutory revenues were at £290.8m, down from £325.6m over the same period last year, while profit before tax had slipped to £25.2 from £58.2m in 2019.

  • Parent of distributor Smith News, Connect Group, said trading has been stronger than expected over the last quarter. The Group expects to deliver Adjusted EBITDA for FY2020 of £38.5m to £39.0m, this is in the top-end of guidance given by the company in July.

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  • BBC Director General Tim Davie was quizzed by the House of Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee about regional news and investigative reporting, among other things. Davie said he was looking at the investigative journalism provision for the hubs the BBC has created across the UK.

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