Murdoch’s British Right-Wing Channel Shuttering TV Network, Going Strictly Online

John Rainford/JORAS/GC Images/Getty
John Rainford/JORAS/GC Images/Getty

Less than two years after Rupert Murdoch’s News UK launched his British right-wing network TalkTV to great fanfare, the channel will stop broadcasting on television and transition to a digital streaming operation.

The move comes just weeks after Piers Morgan, the network’s top star, announced that he was ending his weeknight TalkTV show and taking it to his YouTube channel, where he said the “vast majority” of his audience watched Piers Morgan Uncensored.

Since its debut in April 2022 with a much-hyped Donald Trump interview, the Murdoch-led channel has struggled in the ratings and significantly trailed its conservative TV rival GB News, known as the British Fox News, as it’s courted controversy in recent years. In December 2023, TalkTV reached 2 million viewers while GB News had 2.87 million.

In an email to the network’s staff on Tuesday, TalkTV’s president of broadcasting, Scott Taunton, said the channel would completely convert to digital by this summer. He framed the decision as a positive for the company while reassuring employees that TalkTV’s future was secure.

“Two years ago, we would not have been brave enough to launch a channel without a linear presence, but audiences of all ages have moved fast and smartphones are now the primary device where news is consumed,” he wrote. “We need to adapt to this as a priority. We are therefore intending that Talk comes off linear television from early summer and our focus will be on streaming.”

Taunton added: “Talk will continue broadcasting as a livestreaming news and opinion channel, distributing through streaming platforms to include YouTube, Amazon Fire, Samsung, LG and others. A large proportion of our live viewing is already through streaming on televisions and we intend to continue to grow this. Clips will continue to be shared through social media. There is no doubt over Talk’s future as an audio and video channel, it just won’t be distributed on linear.”

Additionally, Taunton noted that a “restructure” will take place over the next few months, with many of the network’s news studios converted to focus on News UK’s other programs. News UK’s director of audio, Dennie Morris, will lead TalkTV, Taunton said, while the company’s head of TV, Richard Wallace, will oversee Morgan’s show and the news studios.

Morgan, who says he “co-owns” his program with Murdoch’s News Corp., told Semafor last month that he was giving up his hour-long live evening news show for a YouTube broadcast that would largely consist of wide-ranging interviews and “spicy monologues.”

The former CNN anchor said he wanted to go fully digital because there is “something quite anachronistic” about “trying to create old fashioned TV for a pre-scheduled time slot each night for a relatively small audience—when we’re getting such gigantic audiences digitally.”

To make his case, he pointed out that a recent interview with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak attracted just 50,000 viewers on TalkTV but pulled in five times that number on YouTube.

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