GB News: Piers Morgan attacks Ikea for pulling advertising from news channel

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image sourceBBC/Reuters
image captionPiers Morgan called Ikea "pathetic" after it announced it was pulling its adverts

Broadcaster Piers Morgan has attacked Ikea after it became one of a number of companies to withdraw advertising from newly launched news channel GB News.

The former Good Morning Britain anchor said the Swedish furniture makers were "pathetic virtue-signalling twerps" and that he would now be boycotting them.

Ikea said it had not knowingly booked slots on GB News, saying it was not in line with its "humanistic values".

Andrew Neil, GB News' chairman, issued his own response to the decision.

"Ikea has decided to boycott GB News because of our alleged values," he wrote on Twitter.

"Here are Ikea's values - a French CEO who is a criminal with a two year suspended jail sentence for spying on staff."

The company's French arm was fined €1m (£860,000) this week after it was found guilty of using private detectives and police officers to collect staff's private data.

Jean-Louis Baillot, Ikea France's former CEO, was given a two-year suspended jail term and a €50,000 (£43,000) fine. His lawyer said he was considering an appeal.

Octopus Energy and cider firm Kopparberg are among the other brands that have withdrawn advertising since GB News' launch on Sunday.

image sourcePA Media
image captionAndrew Neil and Michelle Dewberry on GB News

Kopparberg said its advert ran "without our knowledge" and that it was undertaking a review of the channel's content.

A post on the its Twitter account said: "Kopparberg is a drink for everyone and we have immediately suspended our ads from this channel pending further review of its content."

Octopus said it would only run ads in future if the news channel proved "genuinely balanced".

Greg Jackson, the company's founder, said it did not advertise on platforms "whose primary purpose is the distribution of hate" and said it would only run adverts on new channels after watching their output for a period of time.

The Open University and Ovo Energy also said they were pausing advertising, which they said had been placed by a media partnership without their knowledge.

GB News has vowed to fight cancel culture and reflect voices not heard in the media.

But it has faced criticism from campaigners such as the group Stop Funding Hate, who say its launch brings highly partisan Fox News-style programming to the UK.

Neil, the BBC's former political presenter, has dismissed the Fox News comparisons as "nonsense".

As chairman and a presenter, he has promised to challenge the "echo chamber" of the "metropolitan" news.

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image captionKopparberg is among the companies to have pulled their advertising

In an opening monologue to viewers on Sunday night, Neil said GB News would aim to "puncture the pomposity of our elites in politics, business, media and academia and expose their growing promotion of cancel culture for the threat to free speech and democracy that it is".

Cancel culture is an idea generally promoted by right-leaning commentators that activists, mostly on the left, are seeking to suppress free expression by permanently shaming and ostracising individuals deemed to have transgressed.

It is often associated with woke culture - a call for an increased alertness to social injustice that some on the right of politics feel has strayed into stifling political correctness.

Fraser Nelson, editor of the Spectator which Neil is also chairman of, told BBC News that Kopparberg's boycott could lead to a consumer backlash.

"Cancel culture is not popular. If Kopparberg is clever enough to sell cider to the English (who have the best apples on earth) then it should be clever enough to realise its mistake. We should expect a clarification soon.

"Being 'for everyone' should mean being for everyone."

Press Gazette reported that other companies and organisations including Nivea and drinks brand Grolsch had also distanced themselves from the news channel within 48 hours of its launch.

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image captionDan Wootton left The Sun to join GB News

Promoting a personality-led approach, the GB News presenting line-up includes ex-BBC host Simon McCoy, ITV veteran Alastair Stewart and ex-Sun journalist Dan Wootton.

Morgan is not a member of the station's line-up, despite speculation he would join the channel following his leaving ITV's Good Morning Britain show in March.

Topics discussed on Wootton's Dan's Digest segment have included the UK's lockdown extension, taking the knee and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Speaking to BBC News on Tuesday, Richard Wilson, director of media group Stop Funding Hate, said that the immediate controversial tone meant "it's no surprise" that a reputable brand such as Kopparberg are "stepping away, and refusing to align with this".

The group has begun compiling a list of brands advertising on the fledgling channel - urging its 120,000 followers on Twitter to exert pressure on them on social media.

GB News is available on Freeview channel 236 as well as other platforms including Sky, Virgin Media and Freesat.

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