GB News has seen its viewers plummet to zero for some shows after a boycott over one presenter taking the knee in solidarity with the England national team.
The audience fell to zero at 5pm on Wednesday, during a programme co-hosted by ex-BBC presenter Simon McCoy and former Ukip spokesperson Alex Phillips, according to official television audience figures produced by rating agency Barb.
Presenter Liam Halligan and former Labour MP Gloria De Piero’s show also attracted no measurable audience meanwhile their rivals Sky News had 50,000 and BBC News registered 62,000 for the same period.
It came after viewers were outraged by former Boris Johnson spokesman Guto Harri taking the knee after the England team suffered racist abuse after the Euro 2020 final defeat.
A GB News spokesperson refused to say whether Harri was still with the station amid concerns he had been, in fact, cancelled.
The channel tweeted: “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.
“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.”
The tweet sparked derision with some asking whether GB News was an “elaborate performance art piece”.
Harri, who worked as an aide for Boris Johnson for his Mayor of London stint, insisted GB News was “above all about free speech”.
He tweeted: “English footballers have made it clear that when they take the knee they are making a clear statement about rejecting racism (not endorsing the narrow divisive aims of BLM). I support them.”
Andrew Neil, GB News chair, hasn’t tweeted any content from his channel since July 6 after he told viewers he was taking a break for a few weeks but would be back “before the summer is out”.
Mr Neil, who is believed to be staying in his main residence in the south of France, also acknowledged that the channel had experienced a “rocky start” but said GB News’ audience was growing.
“In two short weeks, we’ve already built a loyal audience which has beaten all of our expectations, it’s often bigger than the other news channels and it’s growing,” he said.