Rupert Murdoch’s News UK has announced plans to launch a national television station called talkTV, which will be a rival to the floundering GB News and provide a platform for the return of Piers Morgan.
The company said talkTV will go on air early next year and be available as a stream for Smart TVs and as a traditional television channel, with the company intending to spend the large sum required to secure slots on Freeview, FreeSat, Virgin Media and Sky.
News UK said it would hire some “exceptional talent” for the station. Bosses believe Morgan fits in that category and is the biggest name to have signed up to the project. He will also write a column for the Sun, a book for the Murdoch-owned HarperCollins, and have his show produced on Murdoch-owned channels around the world.
Murdoch said: “Piers is the broadcaster every channel wants but is too afraid to hire. Piers is a brilliant presenter, a talented journalist and says what people are thinking and feeling.”
Although the company is insistent talkTV will not be a traditional rolling news channel and will also feature entertainment, documentaries and sports programming, the bedrock of its output is likely to come from current affairs discussions.
The channel is being built out of the company’s radio stations which include talkRadio, talkSport, Times Radio and Virgin Radio. They already produce a substantial amount of video content at relatively low cost featuring presenters and guests talking in the studio.
Although News UK did not reference the channel’s political leaning in its launch announcement, the video material currently produced by talkRadio may provide clues. The channel repeatedly focuses on culture war topics and last month announced a programme counting down “the biggest, daftest and most worrying examples of cancel culture in the UK and beyond, proving that just about anyone or anything can face the threat of being cancelled”.
TalkRadioTV has already soft-launched on Smart TV featuring Julia Hartley-Brewer, Mike Graham, Trisha Goddard, Rob Rinder and Jeremy Kyle.
In a dig at GB News, which has endured a disastrous launch and lacks any regular news updates, News UK said there would be “proper hourly news bulletins” on its service.
The decision comes just five months after the company’s chief executive Rebekah Brooks cancelled plans to launch a News UK TV service, arguing it could not be done on a profitable basis.
しかしながら, the disastrous launch of GB News appears to have played a role in convincing Murdoch’s company there is a gap in the market for a similar channel if the material is produced professionally.
News UK has been aggressively hiring big-name talent on large wages, having poached Chris Evans and Graham Norton from the BBC. The company often ties them into “360 deals”, where staff work across multiple News UK outlets – such as a column in the Sun, a show on talkRadio, and a role in the company’s television plans.