Legatum CEO Mark Stoleson writes in The Sunday Telegraph about why we invested in GB News, free speech in the U.K. and Legatum's global mission.
GB News is already giving its Establishment rivals a run for their – or rather, your - money.
After only ten weeks, GB News has achieved the highest watch time of any UK news channel, had almost a billion hits online and reached nearly five million Brits, most of whom live outside London. As one of its main funders, we at Legatum could not be happier, and the causes of this success are the same three reasons we decided to get involved in the first place.
First, the big media corporations were still displaying an intolerance for the views of Brits who live beyond the M25. GB News is getting out of London to give a voice to the UK's underrepresented regional communities who previously felt unheard in the national conversation. By listening to and respecting their views, not only will we have a chance of successfully “levelling up” the UK, but British society will become more cohesive.
Second, public trust in Britain’s media outlets and institutions was in decline. The Edelman Trust Barometer recently found that 61 per cent of people think the global media is doing a poor job at providing objective news, and recent polling suggests that 42 per cent of the British public consider the BBC to be biased. GB News seeks to deliver the news in an unbiased, trustworthy, accurate, informative way, providing content for every viewer, irrespective of their background or political persuasion.
Finally, freedom of speech – fundamental in a free society - was at risk in the UK. An increasingly loud, intolerant minority are trying to cancel the views of people they disagree with. These politically motivated campaigners dress up their intolerance as something virtuous, when all they’re actually doing is trying to censor voices they disagree with. That’s how mobs operate, and this phenomenon has exploded due to mainstream media’s willingness to entertain it and not call out its dangers.
True equality stems from mutual respect, fairness, open-mindedness and tolerance – and listening and learning from each other. These are British values, and GB News is amplifying them in everything it does. There is nothing more British than being able to disagree and debate without fear of consequences. We need conversation not confrontation, and enabling debates to happen openly and honestly can provide an antidote to the division and tribalism we’ve seen so much of recently.
What causes Legatum to fund GB News and the Legatum Institute in the UK, but also projects like the Freedom Fund, which is working to bring an end to modern slavery and human trafficking, or the END Fund, which seeks to eliminate the world’s five most common neglected tropical diseases? The answer is simple: freedom.
When people are free and have a sense of hope for the future, they won’t only drive themselves and their families towards prosperity, they will also create a better world for all of us. Every human is of infinite value, talent and ingenuity are found in abundance across the globe, and prosperous societies have found that freedom is the catalyst that unlocks it.
The pandemic showed how many of our freedoms we previously took for granted here in the UK. But the recent unprecedented levels of state control should serve as the wake up call we need, not only to fight for the return of our own freedoms here in the UK, but to help people around the world who never even had these freedoms to begin with.
During the pandemic, we’ve all seen small miracles in our communities, with countless acts of generosity, kindness and neighbourly compassion for one another. When given the freedom and responsibility to do what is right, people overwhelmingly tend to honour and help each other.
Only by setting people free and empowering them across the UK and the world will they drive us all towards prosperity, make our societies stronger and help us all build a legacy, a “Legatum”, that we can be proud to hand on to our children and grandchildren.
GB News is one integral part of our mission to deliver freedom, and its successes should be celebrated by anyone who favours diversity and tolerance and respect. It is an honour to be involved in such an exciting project and to help reflect people’s genuine and heartfelt pride in Britain, its achievements and its people.
This article was originally published in The Sunday Telegraph, accessible here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/ne...