America’s famous First Amendment may be under threat de facto, but it does at least exist de jure, and one of its major modern protectorates is the media. Britain has no such safeguard, however, and its legal requirement for media impartiality (a memorandum apparently unread at the BBC) means there is not an equivalent provision for freedom of expression which allows Fox News to act as at least a notional counterweight to the left-wing enterprise America’s media have largely become.
Enter GB News. The first new televisual news channel in the U.K. for 24 years is the brainchild of media kingpin Andrew Neil. Having founded Sky TV, worked for both the BBC and Rupert Murdoch—including editing The Sunday Times—and become a regular figurehead on British political TV, Neil is a wily and veteran media pugilist whose latest venture was sure to attract both attention and opposition.
GB News is regulated by British broadcasting standards commission the Office of Communications (OFCOM—Orwell was right about truncated acronyms), putting it on a par with the BBC and others, so this is no maverick pirate station. But Neil’s first enemy has proved to be not just the leftist media or the regulators, but advertisers and their self-appointed watchdog, an activist organization called Stop Funding Hate (SFH).
Americans will be familiar with the methods of these preemptive ideological troubleshooters from, among others, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. These agitators are both cultural commissars and a convenient method for the deep state to outsource censorship. The same principle makes Big Tech the linemen of the new “woke” culture. Even banks have been co-opted to do the work of the current politburo, the most recent example familiar to Americans being the decision of Wells Fargo to close the account of GOP candidate and America First activist Lauren Witzke, leaving her penniless and telling her that the check was in the post. But SFH has a dedicated target: advertisers.
SFH was set up five years ago with a mission statement that claims they are “making hate unprofitable by persuading advertisers to pull their support from publications that spread hate and division.” These are not street-placard amateurs, but have a dedicated team of industry-savvy researchers who were looking at GB News’ potential advertisers long before the channel launched.
Swedish furniture giant IKEA was the first big name to pull out of advertising on GB News after its June 13 launch, stating that the channel’s output did not match their own “humanistic values.” As we are all aware, from humanism’s roots in the European Renaissance to the present day, flat-packed, self-assembly bookshelves have always played a key role in those values. IKEA’s own values include having stores in Saudi Arabia, that oasis of humanistic values, and employing private investigators to spy on their French employees, for which they were fined €1 million.