Alastair Stewart on GB News: There is huge market for other side of story

Alastair Stewart attending the Costa Book of The Year Awards 2017 Photocall at Quaglino's in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Alastair Stewart attending the Costa Book of The Year Awards 2017 Photocall at Quaglino's in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday January 30, 2018. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire

Alastair Stewart has said he hopes the launch of GB News will provide a “broader” and more “exciting” canvas than the traditional news bulletin, and offer something to the “huge market for the other side of the story”.

The veteran broadcaster, who left ITV News last year after more than 35 years, will present Alastair Stewart And Friends on the fledgling network, featuring conversation and analysis of current affairs.

He is one of a host of high -profile signings for the channel, chaired by Andrew Neil, including former BBC journalist Simon McCoy, former Sky journalist Colin Brazier and former Labour MP Gloria De Piero.

He told the PA news agency: “The (existing) main network news is bulletin-driven, here is Mary Nightingale, here is George Alagiah giving you 30 minutes of news in two minute, hermetically sealed little packages and that serves a purpose, no doubt, but that’s not what we will be doing.

“We will be saying here’s a couple of hours with Alastair Stewart, Andrew Neil, Simon McCoy, Gloria De Piero etc, talking about the issues that are in the main news agenda, talking about issues that they themselves feel very strongly should be in the agenda, giving their views, giving their opinions, talking to people and seeking other opinions.

“So it’s a much broader and I think, exciting canvas than the traditional news bulletin.”

He continued: “I think television news deserves to exist and deserves to be potent and respected. And I think that is slipping.

“I think it’s desperately worrying that #DefundtheBBC, as a hashtag, has the enormity of the following that it does, because I for one wouldn’t want to defund the BBC.

“But I’m one of the very many who would like the BBC to get its act together, particularly in news and current affairs.”

The channel will launch on Sunday night and Stewart said it will challenge a “self-congratulatory, we-know-best-attitude” that has “developed within much of the media.”

He added: “I was talking to a chum this morning, who said to me that the acid test will be whether those who have dismissed it as Fox News are proved wrong. And whether those who are expecting it to be ‘Send all the immigrants back and sink the boats’ brigade are disappointed because you’re not nasty enough.”

He continued: “I don’t think that there is a market for nastiness. I don’t indulge in nastiness myself.

“But I do think that there is a huge market for the other side of the story, and the one that can be expressed without worrying too much about walking on eggs, and not offending people who are desperately sensitive and politically correct. ”

Asked about preconceptions about the channel, Stewart said: “Andrew himself has made it clear time and time again that we are not Fox News, that we don’t seek to peddle an individually partisan platform.

“And he’s made this clear as well, we wouldn’t be peddling fake news because it suits a particular platform. So if that’s what people are looking for, they will be disappointed.

“I hope that people will say things like, ‘At last,’ or ‘Thank goodness we heard that bit of the story’, and I’m so glad that we haven’t got people who are peddling one particular position.”

The channel will launch at 8pm on Sunday night with a special programme called Welcome To GB News.

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