Piers Morgan cans nightly talk show in blow to Sky News Australia

Piers Morgan Uncensored will no longer be screened on Sky News Australia after the influential British figure announced he was leaving News Corp’s start-up TalkTV to focus on his own YouTube channel.

Morgan called the commitment of a nightly show on the newly established Murdoch channel an “unnecessary straitjacket”, saying the program’s rigid format and fixed schedule were out of step with global audience demands.

Piers Morgan’s show will leave Sky News Australia.
Piers Morgan’s show will leave Sky News Australia.

“It’s clear there’s a huge global demand for the content we’re making… but people are watching on YouTube rather than conventional television and I have no problem with that,” Morgan said.

The decision’s local implications mean the last episode of Piers Morgan Uncensored on Sky News Australia will air on Friday, a spokesperson confirmed to this masthead. The network is also set to lose his digital content, which it said had generated more than 150 million views across its online channels.

Morgan’s YouTube channel under the same name currently has 2.35 million subscribers, with his videos and interviews regularly attracting hundreds of thousands, if not millions of views.

In contrast, the Sky broadcast of the nightly program in Australia, which has aired at 11pm Tuesday to Friday, has failed to attract a significant audience.

TalkTV launched in April 2022, with Morgan signing on as the channel’s star talent in a reported three-year £50 million ($89 million) deal, and his show syndicated across Sky and other outlets.

The launch came shortly after the establishment of GB News, a fellow fringe cable news channel featuring prominent conservative figures, led by former Sky News Australia chief executive Angelo Frangopolous.

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“Piers Morgan Uncensored has driven strong online audiences across [our] digital platforms … and has consistently ranked within our top five programs for online viewership”, a Sky News Australia spokesperson told this masthead.

Chris Kenny and Sharri Markson have swapped places in Sky’s After Dark line up.
Chris Kenny and Sharri Markson have swapped places in Sky’s After Dark line up.

“New digital-only content from Piers Morgan will be available on the Piers Morgan Uncensored YouTube channel.”

Morgan is a high-profile media figure globally, making his name at News Corp’s tabloid The Sun before being appointed editor of the now-defunct News of the World at just 29 years old. He later moved to the Daily Mirror, and led the paper during a period when it was caught up the phone hacking scandal, which later led to the Leveson inquiry.

He now writes columns for The Sun and The New York Post.

The move is a further shake up of Sky News’ weekly line up, with After Dark hosts Sharri Markson and Chris Kenny exchanging time slots earlier this year in a bid to attract more viewers in the primetime 8pm window.

International hosts including Morgan, Megyn Kelly, Nigel Farage, and Douglas Murray have proved successful for Sky News digitally and a major contributor to the channel’s growing and influential online audience.

‘It’s clear there’s a huge global demand for the content we’re making, but the commitment to a daily show at a fixed schedule, with all the editing and time sensitivities that involves, has been an increasingly unnecessary straitjacket.’

Piers Morgan

In similar fashion to Morgan’s aired concerns, Sky News’ digital audience far outrates its traditional broadcast audience. Outsized audiences on its YouTube and Facebook channels have led to a push away from broadcast content, instead focusing on lucrative digital audiences, particularly with an emphasis on American content, leading to fractures in its newsroom.

This masthead recently revealed that 38 per cent of the Australian channel’s digital audience is based in the United States, with audiences engaging with content on President Joe Biden, culture wars issues and the royal family, a particular focus point for Morgan.

Morgan told online news provider Semafor that he co-owns the Piers Morgan Uncensored brand with News Corp.

Former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson launched his own digital show exclusively on social media platform X in 2023 after being sacked by the Murdoch network.

The controversial media figure published an interview with Russian president Vladimir Putin on Friday morning, the first with a Western journalist since Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

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Source: Thanks smh.com