You’re reading Reaction. To get Iain Martin’s weekly newsletter, columnists including Tim Marshall, Maggie Pagano and Adam Boulton, full access to the site and invitations to member-exclusive events, become a member HERE. 

Rupert Murdoch’s glitzy news station TalkTV launched last night to challenge what he sees as the liberal-centred consensus of the mainstream media. But the response from viewers and hacks left much to be desired.

Piers Morgan’s “Uncensored”, the network’s flagship show, was watched by an average 317,000 viewers, beating the likes of Sky News and BBC News. Yet when GB News launched back in June 2021, it garnered over 330,000 viewers, though it had far more technical faults that TalkTV’s pilot.

The rest of the late-night schedule flopped compared to GB News, “Britain’s news channel”. According to figures from the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB), Tom Newton Dunn’s TalkTV evening bulletin was beaten by Nigel Farage’s “Talking Pints”, and Dan Wooton’s prime-time show was watched by more people than Sharon Osborne’s “The Talk”.

TalkTV also received mixed reviews from critics. The Independent described Morgan’s exclusive interview with Donald Trump as a “toe-curling embarrassment”. The Guardian called the former GMB host a “Jeremy Clarkson tribute act”. And the Evening Standard compared Morgan’s monologues to Chris Morris and Armando Iannucci’s satire The Day Today.

Still, it is early days for TalkTV. If Murdoch continues to bring in financial backing, and its top-team of journalists continues to rake in agenda-setting conversations, then there is every chance TalkTV will thrive in a crowded market.