United Kingdom

Culture Secretary warns brands not to 'succumb to pressure groups' by pulling adverts from GB News

Big brands must not 'succumb to pressure groups' by pulling adverts from GB News, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden warned last night.

He defended the UK's 'free and diverse media' after major companies withdrew commercials following pressure from Left-wing campaigners.

The firms have been branded 'gutless' by critics after appearing to pander to woke groups who want to boycott the channel. 

GB News, which launched on Sunday night, is aiming to provide an alternative to Left-leaning broadcast news rivals like the BBC.

Big brands must not 'succumb to pressure groups' by pulling adverts from GB News, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden warned last night

As the number of brands to pull adverts grew yesterday, Mr Dowden told the Mail: 'One of the cornerstones of our liberties is our robust, free and diverse media and GB News is a welcome addition to that diversity.

'As we've seen this week with the totally unacceptable harassment of a BBC journalist, we cannot take it for granted. It is up to brands to advertise where they wish, but it would be worrying if they allow themselves to succumb to pressure groups. 

'They should note that GB News is regulated by Ofcom and held to the same high standards as every other broadcaster in the UK.'

GB News has become a target for groups including Stop Funding Hate.

Left to right: Kirsty Gallacher, Andrew Doyle, Neil Oliver, Darren McCaffrey, Alex Phillips, Rebecca Hutson, Simon McCoy, Nana Akua, Liam Halligan, Gloria Del Piero, Dan Wootton, Andrew Neil, Michelle Dewberry, Mercy Muroki, Tom Harwood, Colin Brazier, Inaya Folarin Iman, Alastair Stewart

Yesterday more brands said they would not advertise on the channel – joining names such as Vodafone, Ikea, Nivea and the Open University.

Last Tory MP Julian Knight, chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, told the Mail: 'This is the worst type of cancel culture. GB News is bringing a much-needed perspective to our media landscape. The brands that are pulling their advertising are frankly gutless and need to understand that the UK is a conservative country and will remain so for the foreseeable.'

Toby Young, of the Free Speech Union, said: 'I'm concerned that Stop Funding Hate is trying to demonise GB News as a purveyor of 'hate' because it disapproves of the channel's non-woke editorial policy – and some naive companies are taking those smears at face value.'

Yesterday GB News chairman Andrew Neil hit back at Ikea and pointed to its 'criminal' former French boss Jean-Louis Baillot. He wrote online: 'Ikea has decided to boycott GB News because of our alleged values. Here are Ikea's values – a French CEO who is a criminal with a two-year suspended jail sentence for spying on staff.' The firm was fined nearly £1million this week by a court in France. Advertising sales for GB News are handled by Sky Media which spreads brands' campaigns across 130 channels.

Advertisers who caved in 

The Daily Mail attempted to contact big brands which pulled adverts from GB News to ask what content prompted their quick withdrawals. While many failed to respond, those that did failed to give any examples.

Kopparberg

It added: 'Kopparberg is a drink for everyone and we have immediately suspended our ads from this channel pending further review of its content.'

Vodafone

The telecoms giant said that its commercials appeared on GB News without its permission and it prefers not to advertise on a new channel.

A spokesman explained: 'We wouldn't normally advertise on a new channel, preferring instead to wait to make a commercial assessment of its quality and reach.

'With GB News still very much in its infancy, we do not have plans to advertise with them at this stage. Our advertising did, however, appear on the channel without our permission.'

The Open University

It said it was not aware GB News was on its advertising schedule and has 'paused' advertising while a review is carried out. A spokesman said: 'With new channel launches, our process is to review the channel over a period of three months before agreeing advertising. On this occasion, we were not aware that GB News was on our advertising schedule so we have paused activity while we review.'

Octopus Energy

The firm said while it was 'categorically not boycotting GB News' it would be monitoring its contents before any further advertising.

A spokesman added: 'Simply, we haven't had time yet to see its output. Like any prudent business, we need to see a product or service before we buy it so we'll be watching GB News before making any decisions. This is a policy we've implemented for all new TV stations.'

OVO Energy

The firm said its adverts were run on the channel 'without its prior knowledge or consent'. It added: 'We have a clear policy not to advertise on platforms which do not align with our values. We've made the decision to pause our use of the channel whilst we ensure it meets our values.'

Ikea

The Swedish furniture giant said it had 'not knowingly' advertised on GB News.

It added: 'We are in the process of investigating how this may have occurred to ensure it won't happen again in the future and have suspended paid display advertising in the meantime.'

Nivea

The skincare specialist said its adverts were automatically linked to the channel.

It has suspended the advertising and will review the decision in three months' time.

Grolsch

The beer company said its adverts were run without its 'knowledge or consent' and it would 'do everything we possibly can' to stop the commercials from appearing on the channel again.

It added that it did not associate with platforms that opposed values of 'inclusion and openness'.

Pinterest

The social media platform apologised for advertising with GB News, claiming it had no knowledge of the placement and would suspend its ads from the channel 'without question'.

It explained on Twitter: 'We had no knowledge and would never have approved it... Without question, we have suspended our ads.'

LV

The insurance company tweeted: 'Our car and home adverts appear across the TV networks we buy [advertising time from] so we haven't specifically targeted this channel, but we've been looking into this with our media agency.'

Specsavers

The chain is said to have told a campaigner it had suspended GB News advertising while it reviews placements with its media buying agency.

Bosch

It said it works with selected media agencies to ensure its adverts do not appear on 'political channels'. The company said this was an isolated example which is being 'dealt with accordingly'.

Indeed

The firm reportedly told a campaigner calling for a boycott of GB News it had 'requested and confirmed' that its advert will not air on the channel in the future.

Ofcom said 373 viewers had complained about Tonight Live with Dan Wootton on Sunday.

The journalist delivered a fiery six-minute monologue on the 'madness' of lockdowns, accusing health officials, scientists and politicians of being 'addicted to power'.

Ofcom will determine if the show needs to be investigated. A spokesman for GB News declined to comment.

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