National Conservatism Conference Clamps Down on Free Press

With today’s National Conservative Conference facing successive disruptions from protesters, not all lefties have had such an easy time of the vetting procedures. A number of left-leaning media outlets, including Novara Media, the Byline Times and openDemocracy, had their press pass applications rejected by the supporters of free speech. Solidarity, comrades!

After applying in April, Novara and Opendemocracy’s press passes were rejected due to “high demand and limited space”. A pro-tip for our comrades, Guido always sends a reporter to the Labour Party conference undercover and that’s how we get the scoops. Just sayin’…

mdi-timer 15 May 2023 @ 16:59 15 May 2023 @ 16:59 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
France’s EDF Nationalisation Proves No Easy Fix for Crisis

The usual characters on the left – Owen Jones, Novara, even Gordon Brown – are all singing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to the energy crisis: nationalise the energy companies, and this will all be fine. Apparently the UK is the only country to get this so wrong – Europe has the right answers…

Across the channel, Macron had the genius idea of fully nationalising the energy firm EDF and capping price rises at 4%. EDF now are suing the French state – or rather, French taxpayers – for around €8.4 billion for being forced to sell their energy at a loss. EDF predict the total losses for the year could reach as high as €15 billion, which will have to be picked up by taxpayers. So the amount households will consequently have to pick up through the tax system will be somewhere in the range of €300 to €500 per French household.

Not only that, Bloomberg reports France is facing an even darker winter than Germany, with EDF running just 26 of its 57 reactors, and the increasing reliance on gas and imported energy shooting wholesale prices through the roof. French forward pricing has shot up almost 1,000% since 2020…

Meanwhile Novara are bandying around charts claiming the UK is uniquely heading for disaster, with European customers shielded from the worst of it. Apparently German retail energy prices have only risen by 23% this year:

Guido’s not sure how Novara stumbled on these figures. According to Rystad Energy, the leading energy research and data analytics consultancy, European electricity bills alone have tripled in the last year…

Bloomberg also reports the total cost of Europe’s energy crisis could come to nearly €200 billion. A cost that one way or another eventually lands as a bill on European taxpayers’ doorsteps…

mdi-timer 11 August 2022 @ 16:35 11 Aug 2022 @ 16:35 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Too Many Politics Shows are Chasing Too Few Viewers

The ongoing fun at TalkTV’s expense has pushed Guido to reflect at length on something that he has thought for a while. There’s too much broadcast political content chasing too small an audience and it will end in tears – for shareholders.

Guido had his second watch of Piers Morgan’s show last night, and by the standards of most current affairs shows, it is better-than-average infotainment. He’s doing issues in an accessible way, a bit more tabloid than say Peston, with much more show business than Marr used to put on his Sunday morning show. Will it work in the sense of making a profit? That remains to be seen. The economics of television favour mass market products; politics-focused television products lose money because politics is, in general, a minority interest and there are just not enough people in the UK to make that minority pay. ITV has always regarded politics as a loss leader, so TalkTV and GB News are attempting to do what no British commercial broadcaster has ever done. They are trying to do politics for profit.

The British television audience is one fifth the size of the US television audience, which is why Fox News, MSNBC and CNN can make money. Although CNN+, the channel’s new streaming venture, failed and shut down after just one month. In the UK magazines, think tanks and online political enterprises have all launched video shows and podcasts of varying quality to service political geeks. Content that mostly preaches to the choir, be it their readers or the ideologically allied. These are niche ventures that build brand loyalty and increase subscriptions and donations. The Spectator’s family of podcasts drive magazine subscriptions, and are financed by sponsors wanting to be associated with the glossy magazine and reach their affluent readers. On the left, Novara’s professional high production values and left-wing critiques give comrades Sarkar and Bastani a measurably bigger reach than TalkTV, funded largely by the donations of their left-wing fans. One think-tank boss told Guido that if their policy wonk focused videos reach just 500 people, that is ten times as many as would ever turn up to a policy seminar – if one donor likes what they see and makes a £50,000 donation, that pays for a lot of cheaply produced online videos spreading their message. The financial logic of these ventures is that they spread the brand message and are self-funding.

These online-only narrowcasters don’t pay presenters millions and don’t have the infrastructure of legacy broadcasters, with purpose built studios, satellite fees, network fees and big production staff head-counts. Yes, the production values are lower, yet viewers don’t seem to mind and they have surprisingly big audiences. They will continue to thrive.

The new channels – GB News and TalkTV – have gone for the infrastructure of legacy broadcasters, in the full knowledge that Sky News loses £20 million-a-year and that the BBC News Channel has a tiny audience by BBC standards. Whilst GB News is doing things on a tighter budget, break-even is still some way away. What takes these channels into profitability will be multiplying their audiences ten times. Good luck with that…

mdi-timer 5 May 2022 @ 12:25 5 May 2022 @ 12:25 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Toby Young’s Daily Sceptic Has More Online Readers than the New Statesman, Novara Media and Morning Star Combined

An article in this week’s New Statesman (“In the Post-Corbyn World, What Next for Alternative Left Media?“) spurred Guido to do some research into their traffic and how they are performing generally. The short answer is not very well in terms of raw audience size. In comparison to right-of-centre political news and opinion sites they are well behind. Like-for-like The Spectator has double the New Statesman’s readership. To give you an idea how much worse they are faring after the Corbyn-era glory days, consider this, Toby Young’s Daily Sceptic alone had last month more online readers than the New Statesman, Novara Media and Morning Star combined!

Even the upstart newly launched GB News website has more traffic than most left-wing websites and those same websites say GB News is failing. The question that needs answering is why are right-of-centre news and views outlets out-performing – in terms of audience reach – left-of-centre news and views websites? Some of them will argue that we’re looking in the wrong place – the audience is not just on their website. The Canary and Skwawkbox generate engagement on Facebook which outstrips their own native website audience by a multiple. Novara Media’s videos and podcasts are apparently seen by far more viewers and listeners than will read their articles. Owen Jones has his own lucrative YouTube channel. Of course GB News has a television channel so can’t be compared like-for-like, it also has an active online video audience, as do the Spectator and Unherd. They match the left for reach, similarly they tend to preach to the converted. The only place where the left-wing media seems dominant is on social media, Twitter in particular.

Is the left’s supposed dominance of Twitter entirely true? The left are are certainly more active on Twitter, in terms of followers however @GuidoFawkes has more than any of the left-wing politics sites. Academic research suggests that left-wing Twitter is more active and that activity is mainly preaching to the converted and engaging with other left-wingers. The left is more active on Twitter undoubtedly and it gives the micro-blogging site a hostile atmosphere for right-of-centre users, however election after election shows that, in the words of David Cameron, “Britain is not Twitter”. As the SNP’s Cyber-Nats demonstrate all too loudly, ferocious activity is not evidence of numbers.

Is it money? The New Statesman is backed by Mike Danson, a billionaire willing to bankroll the millions in annual losses of the magazine without flinching. Novara Media got funding from a foundation backed by millionaire philanthropists, Tribune Magazine has the backing of an American publisher. The healthy tradition on the left of funding publications from readers’ donations means Novara Media and Owen Jones have six-figure revenues and paid staff, on the right only Toby Young’s Daily Sceptic is funded likewise. The Spectator and Guido Fawkes are profit-making commercially competitive media enterprises that stand on their own two feet, they are also read in droves by left-of-centre readers who don’t share their editorial line for the news, gossip and entertainment, whereas few right-of-centre readers would enjoy reading the dreary ideological output of most left-wing publications. Funding isn’t the problem.

Perhaps the answer is simply that the likes of the Guardian, Daily Mirror, Buzzfeed News, Huffington Post and the BBC provide most left-of-centre news consumers with satisfactory confirmation of their prejudices such that they just don’t have to venture out to the alt-left for content that appeals. Is it just that in the wider media context it is harder for the alt-left to appeal beyond an ideological core readership?

mdi-timer 30 October 2021 @ 14:33 30 Oct 2021 @ 14:33 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Guido Talks: Novara Media Takedown Special

Guido Talks takes you through the day’s events over at Novara HQ, discusses the ethics of big tech censoring views, and maybe the future ways we may avoid such free speech clampdowns in future. Subscribe to the show on YouTube here

We discuss decentralised social networks. Here’s something we published when Trump was deplatformed: decentralised social networks.

mdi-timer 26 October 2021 @ 17:23 26 Oct 2021 @ 17:23 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Novara Media’s YouTube Channel Restored

Guido is pleased to report that after 100 minutes offline, Novara Media’s YouTube channel has been restored. It was inexplicably terminated this morning, without prior warning or explanation. So far, YouTube haven’t explained anything. Still, Guido is pleased the channel back online. Even those who vehemently disagree with Novara’s politics immediately lent their support to the team, including the editors of The Spectator and Griptthe political editor of The Sun, and, of course, our own editor. Tech platform censorship is obviously a serious problem, and it’s right to resist it whatever one’s individual politics. Ash and Aaron would do the same for us, right?

UPDATE:  For our take on the freedom of speech implications watch our latest Guido Talks.

mdi-timer 26 October 2021 @ 13:43 26 Oct 2021 @ 13:43 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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