LONDON – British broadcasting veteran Andrew Neil stepped down Monday as chairman of GB News, just three months after he launched it amid great fanfare to provide an alternative to an alleged “metropolitan elite” bias among the U.K.'s established news channels.
GB News, which has struggled for viewers since its launch and often faced mockery on social media for a string of technical glitches, said the 72-year-old will continue to contribute as a regular guest commentator.
The news of Neil's departure has been widely anticipated since he announced a break two weeks into its launch. Neil had helped steer the channel to its launch over the previous year.
“I am sorry to go but I have concluded it’s time to reduce my commitments on a number of fronts," said Neil, who has previously edited the Sunday Times newspaper and was a political interviewer for the BBC.
“I wish GB News well in continuing to fulfil its founding promise and mission to reach audiences currently underserved by existing news broadcasters," he added.
Neil launched the channel with an hour-long introduction to the presenting line-up, many of whom were enticed away from the BBC, ITV and Sky News. He promised viewers that the channel would expose the growing promotion of cancel culture” and give a voice “to those who feel sidelined or silenced.”
But its commitment to free speech was questioned after it censured one of its presenters, Guto Harri, for taking the knee during an on-air discussion of the anti-racism gesture adopted by England’s national soccer team. His gesture drew an overwhelmingly negative response from viewers and Harri subsequently quit the channel.
And in a move that fueled talk that it was taking a more populist bent, the channel in July appointed Nigel Farage, arguably the most influential voice behind Britain's Brexit departure from the European Union, to its line-up of presenters.
Hiring the high-profile but divisive Farage, Britain’s most prominent supporter of Donald Trump, has been interpreted by many as a sign the channel plans to put more emphasis on right-wing politics and “culture war” issues.
The channel, which broadcasts seven days a week across the U.K. and Ireland, is available globally on digital platforms. has consistently denied that it is looking to be the British equivalent of Fox News. It has been backed by New York-based Discovery and British investor Paul Marshall, among others.
British broadcasting rules require news channels to be accurate and impartial in their coverage.