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Morgan grinder
TalkTV, Issue 1617
piers-talk.jpg
SMALL TALK: Piers Morgan's TalkTV show is heading for YouTube
PIERS "Morgan" Moron presented his departure from scheduled TV broadcasting for the wilder shores of YouTube last week as a positive leap out of the "unnecessary straitjacket" of scheduled programming and into an exciting digital future.

"We're going to go where the audience is, and give the audience what you want," he declared in a valedictory speech that, in a sign of the digital delights to come, his producers put out on social media despite managing to cut him off halfway through a sentence.

He now promises that episodes his Uncensored show (to which he and TalkTV co-own the rights) could run online for "three or four hours, and the audience would lap it up", which may be a challenge: the millions-strong YouTube viewing figures he boasts of have been almost entirely for carefully selected short clips, with much lower numbers watching the entire show.

Digger's dream
In reality the retreat from linear broadcasting marks yet another expensive failure that can be laid at the door of Rupert Murdoch. When the doddery Digger first had the idea of launching a British equivalent to his US channel Fox News in 2020, the company brought in former Fox and CBS man David Rhodes as its new head of broadcasting to explore the possibilities.

He was let go by News UK CEO Rebekah Brooks in April 2021, when she told staff that "we determined early on in that review that it was not commercially viable to launch a traditional news channel on linear TV... the costs of running a rolling news channel are considerable, and it is our assessment that the payback for our shareholders wouldn't be sufficient".

Action station
Instead, the company said it would concentrate on on-demand shows released over streaming services – getting as far as announcing a flagship nightly entertainment show entitled News to Me, presented by ex-Sun man Gordon Smart – before Rupert woke up and decided he wanted his TV station after all, committing enormous amounts to securing broadcast slots, signing up Moron on an eye-watering £50m package to lead it, and even providing him with his own purpose-built studio at a location more convenient for his home.

Murdoch left no one in any doubt that TalkTV, as it was now called, was his baby, posing for photographs with his new star, declaring: "Piers is the broadcaster every channel wants but is too afraid to hire." Viewers, however, did not appear to want him: TalkTV's ratings have been pitiful.

Now, after nearly two years, Murdoch appears to have reached the same conclusion his executives presented him with in 2021. Yet another triumph for News Corp shareholders to chalk up, along with Rupe's $580m purchase of MySpace, the $675m he gave his daughter for her TV company and the $100m he handed over to fraudster Elizabeth Holmes!

More stories in the latest issue:

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FOX NEWS
The libel court victory of TalkTV presenter Nicola Thorp over Laurence Fox led to recriminations among various colleagues at the little-watched channel.

LOCAL ZEROES
GB News claims to be "Britain's News Channel" looking beyond London, but its national coverage is suffering as it lets its stable of regional reporters shrink.

DOUBLE-BARREL SCRAPE
Among Jacob Rees-Mogg's recent guests on his GB News show have been "outspoken" historian David Starkey and, er, Rees-Mogg's very own sister.

WARNER GLOSS
Labour's Keir Starmer proudly posted that he had met David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros Discovery – but Zaslav's track record isn't one to aspire to.

To read all these stories in full, please buy issue 1617 of Private Eye - you can subscribe here and have the magazine delivered to your home every fortnight.

Next issue on sale: 28th February 2024
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