News UK has revealed it will launch a nightly entertainment show this spring after months of speculation about its plans to expand into TV.
The media company, which owns the Sun and Times newspapers and the Wireless radio network, is hoping to differentiate itself from Andrew Neil’s upcoming GB News channel with the entertainment news launch.
In addition, while GB News will be a traditional linear channel aiming to air 6,500 hours of original programming a year via Freeview, News UK’s channel will be available via streaming services rather than over the airwaves.
This means that, unlike GB News, it will not be subject to regulation by Ofcom.
Its content will be streamed live and on-demand on multiple major streaming platforms, although it has not yet revealed which ones, and it will partner with connected TV distributors on programmatic advertising revenues.
The first launch, due to start this spring, is a panel show provisionally named News To Me and hosted by ex-Scottish Sun editor and Sun deputy editor Gordon Smart (pictured).
Smart, who left The Sun after 14 years including several years on the Bizarre showbiz column in 2017 and then presented a weeknight evening show on Radio X, said the show would “tackle entertainment news in a fresh and exciting way”.
Sun executive editor Dan Wootton, also a former Bizarre editor, has just left News UK and his slot on its Talkradio station to join GB News as a presenter. The channel has insisted it will be accurate and balanced despite reports it will have a distinctive right-wing stance.
News UK hired former CBS News president and Fox News vice president David Rhodes earlier this year to lead the TV project as its president of UK broadcasting.
Rhodes said: “Audiences are seeking out news programming where they already find entertainment today – live and on demand via digital platforms.
“We are excited that Gordon will help us to start visualising the best of our journalism and more.”
News UK launched Times Radio last year as an audio extension of the Times brand and sees video as the next step. After selling its stake in Sky, News UK parent company News Corp does not currently have a UK TV news outlet.
It has already dabbled in video by live-streaming from the Talkradio studio and posting specific programmes and clips – a feed that was briefly banned “in error” by Youtube last month – and in the on-demand audio world with podcasting.
The decision to get into streaming rather than linear TV follows years of falling appointment viewing and ad revenues hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ofcom said last year: “The longer-term outlook for TV advertising will also depend on the extent to which viewing to traditional linear TV continues to decline, and whether advertisers consequently re-evaluate the value of TV advertising compared to other online media.”
Smart will be joined on New To Me by senior executive producer Winnie Nelson, who has worked on Good Morning Britain, at CNN and on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
Former head of news at ITV’s This Morning and editor of OK! Magazine Charlotte Seligman has been named head of casting, while ex-GMB producer Caitlin Black has been appointed series editor.
On-air Smart will be joined by a line-up of young showbiz journalism talent including former OK! deputy digital content director JJ Anisiobi.
News UK head of programming Sebastian Scott said the show will update viewers on global entertainment news “in a way no other show in the UK currently does”.
“Gordon is well known to readers of The Sun and beyond, and his great energy and storytelling skills will make compelling viewing,” he said.
Picture: News UK