The latest addition to Britain’s array of 24-hour news channels is to begin recruiting more than 100 journalists after completing a £60m fundraising that it claims was significantly oversubscribed.
GB News, which aims to launch later this year, said on Wednesday that Sir Paul Marshall, a prominent hedge fund manager, and Legatum, a Dubai-based investment group, would become major shareholders in the company.
The announcement of its founding investors – which confirmed a series of Sky News reports in recent weeks – paves the way for GB News to introduce what it says will be “a boldly different 24-hour television and digital news service”.
GB News will be chaired by Andrew Neil, the veteran former BBC broadcaster, who will also host a prime-time programme on the channel.
Mr Neil said he was “thrilled to have such a broad range of high-calibre investors who share our belief that many British people are crying out for a news service that is more diverse and more representative of their values and concerns.
“GB News is a massive undertaking in a fiercely competitive market but we’re confident there’s an appetite for a fresh approach to news in Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.”
The new channel says it will recruit 140 staff – including 120 journalists – and expects to reach 96% of British television households through Freeview, Sky, Virgin Media, YouView and Freesat.
It said on Wednesday that it would also launch streaming, video-on-demand and audio services.
GB News’ initial investors are led by Discovery, the American media group, which has committed £20m to fund the launch.
Between them, Discovery, Sir Paul – co-founder of the hedge fund Marshall Wace – and Legatum, which partly funds the think-tank The Legatum Institute, account for the vast majority of the £60m funding raised by the new venture, according to insiders.
Sources said that the Reuben family, which had been in talks with GB News executives, had not participated in the fundraising.
GB News has been set up by media industry figures including Andrew Cole, a director of Liberty Global, and Mark Schneider, who also founded parts of what went on to become the American tycoon John Malone’s telecommunications empire.
The new channel is to be run as chief executive by Angelos Frangopoulos, a former Sky News Australia executive.
Mr Frangopoulos said: “This is a significant investment in British journalism at a time when it’s needed most.
“GB News will be proudly independent and fearless in tackling the issues people care about, especially in communities outside London.”
The channel may not be the only addition to the UK’s broadcast news landscape this year, with Rupert Murdoch also preparing to establish a TV news channel in the UK.
Lord Sugar and Piers Morgan are among those being courted by Mr Murdoch’s News UK to join his new outfit, according to reports.
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