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UK Government was second biggest GB News advertiser in March

The UK Government was GB News’s second biggest advertiser by volume in the first four weeks of March this year, according to Barb data seen by Prolific North.

The biggest advertiser by volume was Sky, which ran a total of 512 spots, generating around 29m impacts in the month to March 27, compared to 471 spots and almost 27m impacts for the Crown Commercial Service, aka the government, which delegates ad buying to Manning Gottlieb OMD subsidiary OminGOV.

In terms of spend, and taking into account the fact that Sky Media is GB News’s ad sales partner and consequently presumably able to offer itself a fairly competitive rate, it would not be unreasonable to surmise that the government was GB News’s biggest spender for the month.

The third most frequent advertiser on the channel was GB News itself, with 421 spots, after which there was a marked drop off of over 25% to fourth place.

Sources with knowledge of TV ad rates have told Prolific North that a typical rate card for a channel of similar reach to GB News would be around £4 per 1,000 impacts, potentially equating to over £120,000 ad spend by the government in March, although realistically, given the size of the government’s account it could probably also negotiate a reasonable discount itself.

A total of four government campaigns were running on the channel in March – for cardiovascular disease, childcare careers, an NHS cancer campaign, and an anti-smoking drive.

Prolific North asked the Cabinet Office if it was appropriate to spend tax payers’ money advertising on a platform with such a relentless record for breaking the government’s own broadcasting rules – most recently Ofcom found five of the channel’s shows had broken impartiality rules between May and June 2023 – one that is frequently accused of stoking division, and all while government funding for the BBC is facing an unprecedented squeeze.

A government spokesman said: “The Government advertises across a wide range of platforms and channels to communicate to the widest audience possible. All advertising space is independently purchased by an agency, OmniGOV, to achieve this reach, while also prioritising value for money for taxpayers.”

GB News, whose commercial operations are based in Manchester, declined to comment.

The channel’s roster of current and former presenters features ex and serving Conservative ministers and MPs including Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg, and husband and wife team Esther McVey and Philip Davies, as well as erstwhile-Conservatives-turned-Reformers Lee Anderson and Nigel Farage.

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