Guto Harri takes the knee on GB News as he slams racism
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While Andrew Neil may be on an extended break from GB News presenting duties, the new news network has still managed to hit headlines. Earlier this week, guest presenter Guto Harri sparked uproar from viewers after taking the knee in the wake of racism aimed at England’s Euro 2020 footballers and prompted some fans to vow to boycott the channel over the gesture. And this behaviour among viewers has now been reflected in official viewing figures from Barb.
According to the rating agency [via the Guardian], there were two broadcasts over the past week which failed to attract measurable audience figures.
On Wednesday afternoon, business editor Liam Halligan and former Labour MP Gloria De Piero took their seats for the regular afternoon timeslot.
However, between the 1pm and 1:30pm timeslot, the pair’s show failed to bring in ratings, while the likes of BBC News and Sky News raked in 62,000 and 50,000, respectively.
Elsewhere, the ratings plummeted towards zero on the same day during Simon McCoy and Alex Phillips’ show.
As the clock approached 5pm, former BBC newsreader McCoy and ex-UKIP spokesperson Phillips struggled to maintain any measurable audience, with several tuning out.
The major blow to the channel’s viewing figures came 24 hours after Harri had taken the knee while broadcasting alongside co-host Mercy Muroki.
“I’ve never understood why people would find it offensive,” Harri told Muroki during Tuesday’s broadcast.
Harri continued by revealing he himself had been against the gesture, asking “do we have to do this,” every time he wanted to watch football.
But after seeing the online racist abuse aimed at England players Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho, Harri admitted he had his opinion changed.
“But having seen over the past few days just how close to the surface, just how deep-rooted, just how hideously ugly racism among some England fans is,” Harri said. “I totally get why this squad throughout thought we have to say, day in, day out, that racism is not on.
“And I actually with the benefit of hindsight, I may have underestimated how close to the surface the racism still is, I actually get it.”
Harri then got to his feet and took the knee live on air, defending the stance as an “important gesture”.
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The channel was on the receiving end of thousands of messages and complaints from disgruntled viewers as a result.
And GB News released a statement on Thursday to condemn Harri’s actions as a “breach” of its standards.
On Twitter, it penned to its 309.7k followers: “GB News stands four-square against racism in all its forms. We do not have a company line on taking the knee.
“Some of our guests have been in favour, some against. All are anti-racist. We have editorial standards that all GB News journalists uphold.”
It followed this up by saying: “On Tuesday a contributing presenter took the knee live on air and this was an unacceptable breach of our standards.
“We let both sides of the argument down by oversimplifying a very complex issue. 3/3.”
A GB News spokesperson refused to comment further on the statement.
GB News begins with The Great British Breakfast daily at 6am.
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