TalkTV
The News Building, adjacent to The Shard, London
TypeTelevision news channel
CountryUnited Kingdom
Broadcast areaUnited Kingdom
HeadquartersLondon, England
Programming
Language(s)English
Picture formatHDTV 1080i (Downscaled to 576i for SDTV feed)
Ownership
OwnerNews UK
ParentNews UK Broadcasting Ltd
Key people
Sister channels
History
Launched25 April 2022; 21 months ago (25 April 2022)[1]
FounderRupert Murdoch
Links
Websitetalk.tv
Availability
Terrestrial
Freeview
  • Channel 237

TalkTV is a British free-to-air opinion-oriented[a] television and radio channel owned and operated by News UK. The channel is available on Freeview, Freesat, Sky, Virgin Media and via the internet on YouTube. It launched on 25 April 2022.

The channel features video simulcasts of TalkRadio programming in off-peak hours, but launched with three original programmes, The News Desk, Piers Morgan Uncensored, and The Talk.[3]

History

Background

TalkTV marks Rupert Murdoch's return to British television news after being forced to sell Sky News to preserve its editorial independence from his companies

Australian-born American media magnate Rupert Murdoch originally entered the British television news market in 1989 with the launch of Sky News.[4] In 1996, Murdoch entered the US and Australian television news markets with Fox News and Sky News Australia.[5][6] In the 2010s, the Murdoch family began to sell a number of assets, including 21st Century Fox and Sky Plc, the companies that owned those news channels at the time.[7]

In January 2018, the Competition and Markets Authority issued a preliminary report recommending that Sky News be insulated from the remainder of Murdoch's assets, or divested, in order to preserve its editorial independence.[8] Murdoch retained control of Fox News[7] and Sky News Australia,[9] but Sky News UK was sold to Comcast, leaving Murdoch without a television news presence in the United Kingdom.[10]

Initial foundation as News UK TV

In December 2020, Ofcom granted a licence to News UK, to operate a new linear television channel under the name News UK TV.[2][11][12] By April 2021, it was thought that News UK TV would become a streaming-only service which would operate for a few hours a night.[13][14][15] Rebekah Brooks said to News UK staff that "it was not commercially viable to launch a traditional news channel on linear TV".[16]

David Rhodes, formerly of CBS News and Fox News, joined News UK with the aim of a launching their streaming video news service in 2020.[17] In an interview with the BBC Radio 4's The Media Show, Andrew Neil claimed that he was approached to join News UK's television output by Rhodes before he joined rival GB News.[18] In April 2021 it was announced that Rhodes was to leave News UK in June.[19] Scott Taunton replaced Rhodes as News UK's CEO of broadcasting.[20]

Pivot to TalkTV

By September 2021, plans for a service called News UK TV had been scrapped and talkRadio instead launched a video feed on smart/internet-connected TVs, with Mike Graham, Trisha Goddard, Julia Hartley-Brewer, Jeremy Kyle and Robert Rinder featuring as presenters on the service.[21][22] The preceding months had seen its right-wing rival, GB News, launch as a linear television channel.[23] The 'Talk' brand[b] and family of radio stations had previously been acquired by News UK in September 2016 as part of their purchase of Wireless Group.[24]

Later in September 2021, it was revealed that the "Talk" brand would be used for a linear television station launching in 2022.[25] This change of approach reportedly claimed after Murdoch was bemused by the channels on offer during the pandemic.[26] It was also announced that Piers Morgan would host a show on the channel.[27][28] TalkRadio's Twitter account was renamed to TalkTV to coincide with the launch of the television station.[29]

After gaining a comparatively large viewership on opening night, viewers declined over the following days.[30][31][32] Several serving and former MPs and MEPs are currently employed as presenters on the channel including some who recently held positions within the previous Johnson cabinet.[33] Ofcom's rules state that MPs can be presenters, but cannot be utilised as newsreaders.[34]

In October 2022, Jeremy Kyle joined the network with a self-titled show; this was cancelled a year later.[citation needed] Tom Newton Dunn left the network in August 2023.[35]

News UK Broadcasting, TalkTV's parent company, made a loss of £34 million in the first year after TalkTV launched.[36] In July 2022, Richard Wallace, former editor of the Daily Mirror, was hired as Head of TV.[37]

In February 2024, it was announced that Piers Morgan's show would leave TalkTV but continue on YouTube. Though the figures are calculated differently, Uncensored had television viewer figures in the tens of thousands in comparison to YouTube videos with hundreds of thousands or millions of views.[38] Morgan was among a number of conservative hosts to pivot television talk shows to online formats.[39]

Broadcast

The channel broadcasts from studios within The News Building in Central London.[25] The linear channel was launched on Freesat and Freeview, as well as on Sky and Virgin Media on 25 April 2022.[40][1][41][25] It can be viewed live on Samsung TV Plus and a TalkTV app can be downloaded on Samsung smart televisions.[42] It is also available on-demand.[25][43] In March 2023, TalkTV launched on Amazon Freevee.[44]

When announcing Piers Morgan's programme, it was stated that it would also be carried by two other Murdoch-owned outlets: Fox Nation (a streaming service in the U.S. run as a companion to Fox News) and Sky News Australia.[27]

Local TV

Some TalkTV programming is also simulcast on select local television channels around the UK.[45] TalkTV had formed a partnership with Local TV on 1 January 2023, to provide selected hours throughout the day with simulcasts of TalkTV.[46] Local TV's chairman, David Montgomery, is a former executive at Murdoch's News UK.[47]

On 18 October 2023, it was announced that Local TV channels would be aligned with the TalkTV branding (including name and logo), with the channels remaining wholly-owned by Local TV Limited.[45] With Birmingham TV becoming TalkBirmingham, Bristol TV becoming TalkBristol, Cardiff TV becoming TalkCardif, Leeds TV becoming TalkLeeds, Liverpool TV becoming TalkLiverpool, North Wales TV becoming TalkNorthWales, Teesside TV becoming TalkTeesside and Tyne & Wear TV becoming TalkTyne&Wear.[45]

Reception

Initial ratings were very low with some shows, especially those broadcast in the evening, recording few viewers. In July 2022, the channel had the lowest viewership compared to similar news and opinion-based news shows.[48]

By 2023 some shows, particularly Piers Morgan Uncensored, achieved higher ratings than competitors: an hour-long February interview with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had an average of 120,000 viewers, while BBC News had 70,000 viewers and Sky News and GB News had 20,000 viewers in the same hour.[49] Morgan's interviews with Donald Trump and Nadine Dorries exceeded 300,000 average viewers, while Dorries' interview with Boris Johnson had an average viewership of 50,000.[49][50]

By June 2023, TalkTV had a total identified monthly audience (including sharing and streaming) of 2,135,000, with 14 minutes average daily viewing according to BARB.[51]

In a 2023 poll by YouGov, 9% of respondents ranked TalkRadio/TalkTV as a trusted news-brand, with 14% ranking it as untrustworthy and 23% categorising it as neither.[52]

Criticism

With the appointment of Conservative MP Nadine Dorries as a presenter, Dorries was deemed to have breached the Government’s anti-corruption rules by not advising ACOBA about her role with the channel.[33]

Mike Graham received criticism in 2022 after making a false claim that Mind, a UK mental health charity, had been funding the legal fees of individuals seeking asylum in the UK; TalkTV later issued a public apology.[53] In 2023 TalkTV issued an apology and paid "substantial damages" to the charity Migrants Organise following defamatory claims made on Mike Graham's show that the organisation were "human traffickers".[54] The charity explained that the comments aired by TalkTV had "exposed [the charity] to hate and threats of violence".[54]

As of July 2023 the regulator, Ofcom, have not found TalkTV to be in any breaches of standards, however they have clarified rules on politicians presenting programmes following the influx of politicians to both TalkTV and GB News.[34] The broadcast of Piers Morgan Uncensored on 7 September 2022 received more than 100 complaints to the regulator Ofcom.[55] A broadcast of Dorries' programme on 24 March received 52 complaints to Ofcom while discussing Commons Select Committee of Privileges investigation into Boris Johnson's involvement in the partygate scandal.[56] During the broadcast she claimed that Johnson was being tried by a kangaroo court.[57]

In July 2023 Ofcom launched an investigation into a broadcast on 2 April regarding impartiality and politicians.[58]

That same month, The Guardian reported that TalkTV "offered tens of thousands of pounds" in order to secure an interview with the parents who alleged that Huw Edwards had paid more than £35,000 to receive sexually explicit pictures from their child. The allegations had been printed by TalkTV's sister brand, The Sun newspaper.[59] A source told The Guardian that the interview is part of a planned three-part documentary series.[60][61] When the interview was announced Edwards was receiving hospital treatment for depression.[59] Edwards had previously been suspended by the BBC, but London's Metropolitan Police noted that they had "no information to indicate that a criminal offence has been committed".[62]

Notable presenters

Piers Morgan's former show on the channel attracted high-profile guests, such as the incumbent UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, pictured here filming a show for the channel

Former presenters

Footnotes

  1. ^ Ofcom describes TalkTV’s licence type as editorial.[2]
  2. ^ The 'Talk' brand in the UK was first used for the 1995 launch of Talk Radio UK, later known as Talksport.

References

  1. ^ a b "TalkTV launches April 25". Advanced Television. 28 March 2022.
  2. ^ a b "News UK TV". Ofcom. 25 February 2022.
  3. ^ Deen, Sarah (16 September 2021). "News UK to launch new TV channel in early 2022 with 'exceptional talent'". Metro. Retrieved 16 September 2021.
  4. ^ Brown, Maggie (5 February 2009). "Sky TV's launch: 'a wing and a prayer'". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
  5. ^ "FOX News Channel announced 20 years ago". Fox News. 29 January 2016. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
  6. ^ "About Sky News". Sky News Australia. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
  7. ^ a b Horsman, Mathew (15 November 2018). "What Comcast's purchase of Sky means for the future of the pay-TV platform". Royal Television Society. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
  8. ^ Sweney, Mark (23 January 2018). "Rupert Murdoch's Sky bid is not in public interest, says regulator". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  9. ^ Battersby, Lucy (1 December 2016). "News Corp buys Sky News in Australia and New Zealand from Seven and Nine". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  10. ^ Mayhew, Freddy (25 September 2018). "Comcast stands by pledge to maintain funding for Sky News over ten years and create new editorial board with safeguards for independence". Press Gazette. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
  11. ^ Waterson, Jim (1 December 2020). "Rupert Murdoch's News UK TV channel given approval to launch". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  12. ^ Sherwin, Adam (1 December 2020). "Rupert Murdoch's 'opinionated' News UK TV channel set to launch next year after Ofcom approval". inews.co.uk.
  13. ^ Cushion, Stephen (3 February 2021). "News UK TV and GB News: New channels stoke fears of more partisan journalism". The Conversation. Retrieved 16 September 2021.
  14. ^ Tobbitt, Charlotte (5 February 2021). "News UK gives first hints on TV plans". Press Gazette.
  15. ^ Waterson, Jim (27 April 2021). "Rupert Murdoch scales back plan for News UK TV channel". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  16. ^ Coster, Helen (27 April 2021). "Murdoch's News Corp abandons plans for TV news channel in Britain". Reuters. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
  17. ^ Smith, Ben (1 May 2020). "A Onetime Leader of Fox News Returns to the Murdoch Fold". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
  18. ^ "The Media Show, Andrew Neil: A 50-year media career". BBC Radio 4. 12 March 2021.
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  28. ^ Waterson, Jim (16 September 2021). "Piers Morgan hired to launch Rupert Murdoch TV station talkTV". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 September 2021.
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  30. ^ Manning, Charlotte (28 April 2022). "Piers Morgan's TalkTV ratings plummet while Sharon Osbourne's show falls again". Metro. Retrieved 30 April 2022.
  31. ^ Sherwin, Adam (29 April 2022). "Tears, teething problems and zero rated viewing figures at TalkTV leave rivals GB News crowing". inews.co.uk. Archived from the original on 30 April 2022.
  32. ^ Rainbird, Ashleigh (27 April 2022). "Sharon Osbourne and Jeremy Kyle's new Talk TV show a ratings flop for launch". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 30 April 2022.
  33. ^ a b Elliards, Xander (27 January 2023). "Anti-corruption watchdog raps Nadine Dorries over TV presenter role". The National. Retrieved 30 January 2023.
  34. ^ a b "Ofcom clarifies rules on politicians presenting TV and radio programmes". The Independent. 2 February 2023. Retrieved 25 March 2023.
  35. ^ Tobitt, Charlotte (30 August 2023). "Tom Newton Dunn leaves News UK after 19 years". Press Gazette. Retrieved 21 October 2023.
  36. ^ Tobitt, Charlotte (6 April 2023). "News UK accounts: Sun losses hit £127m due to legal costs while Times titles double profits". Press Gazette. Retrieved 7 April 2023.
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  38. ^ "Piers Morgan to move TalkTV show Uncensored to YouTube". BBC News. 9 February 2024. Retrieved 9 February 2024.
  39. ^ Shafer, Ellise (9 February 2024). "Piers Morgan to Move 'Uncensored' Show to YouTube: TV Schedules Are an 'Unnecessary Straitjacket'". Variety. Retrieved 14 February 2024.
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  45. ^ a b c "Local TV stations align themselves with TalkTV brand". RXTV info. 18 October 2023. Retrieved 18 October 2023.
  46. ^ Martin, Roy (3 January 2023). "TalkRadio / TalkTV to provide programming for Local TV network". RadioToday. Retrieved 5 February 2023.
  47. ^ Maher, Bron (3 January 2023). "TalkTV signs content partnership with David Montgomery's Local TV". Press Gazette. Retrieved 5 February 2023.
  48. ^ Majid, Aisha (25 July 2022). "TalkTV ratings three months in: News channel a distant fourth for TV viewers". PressGazette.
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  50. ^ Watch: Every time Nadine Dorries compliments Boris Johnson in first interview, 3 February 2023, retrieved 19 April 2023
  51. ^ "Monthly Viewing by channel/service". BARB. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
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  53. ^ Bryant, Miranda (2 July 2022). "TalkTV apologises to mental health charity over 'plain wrong' claims". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 29 July 2022. Retrieved 29 July 2022.
  54. ^ a b Maher, Bron (14 June 2023). "TalkTV pays damages to migrants charity over 'human traffickers' claim". Press Gazette. Retrieved 14 June 2023.
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  57. ^ "Nadine Dorries Says Boris Johnson 'Will Be Found Guilty' Of Misleading MPs". HuffPost UK. 24 March 2023. Retrieved 25 March 2023.
  58. ^ "Ofcom to investigate episode of Jacob Rees-Mogg's GB News show". BBC News. 3 July 2023.
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  60. ^ Waterson, Jim (13 July 2023). "Parents in Huw Edwards case 'offered tens of thousands for TalkTV interview'". The Guardian.
  61. ^ Butterworth, Benjamin (13 July 2023). "Huw Edwards accusers record interview with Murdoch's TalkTV". inews.co.uk.
  62. ^ "Huw Edwards named as BBC presenter in explicit photo scandal". Al Jazeera. 12 July 2023.