BBC News Fix

  • BBC makes further changes to News Channel programming

    The BBC has announced fresh changes to weekday programming on the News Channel this week in order to make efficiency savings. The changes include:

    1) An extended Victoria Derbyshire programme starting instead at 9am.

    2) A new programme between 11am and 1pm called Newsroom Live.

    3) A new nations and regions programme at 7pm instead of live breaking news.

    4) An hour of news between 8pm and 9pm - an extra half hour with HARDtalk moving to another time.

    5) A repeat of Newsnight on the news channel from 11:15pm instead on regular news programming to appeal to younger viewers. This is likely to cause changes to The Papers.

    We can see from this just how much the BBC News Channel is dumbing down or perhaps even winding down. Reports last year suggested that the news channel may be closed as a part of the BBC’s cost cutting exercise but Director-General Tony Hall, who was responsible Director of News and Current Affairs when the News 24 was first launched in 1997, appears to want to keep the channel on air. There is a strong case for preserving the news channel. Without it, Sky News would be the only main UK based news channel which we all know would be an absolute disaster not to mention a rather depressing thought.

    An extended Victoria Derbyshire is not the worst decision in the world. I was hoping that the show would be axed in favour standard news bulletins but this announcement tells us that the show is here to stay. Derbyshire is a great journalist but the content of the show is not appropriate for a news channel. If there could be a few more general news items and a regular business section then the show could be salvageable.

    Newsroom Live: sounds a bit gimmicky to me. It will most likely be very similar to standard bulletins but just jazzed up a little bit just to annoy to us all. Annita McVeigh and Joanna Gosling might present it as they do work at that time of day at the moment.

    As for this new programme at 7pm showcasing the best reports from regional newsteams, I really don’t know what the BBC are thinking. The programme will still require a lot of planning and preparation and I cannot see many savings. From a content point of view - does someone in the south-west really care about a local news story in the north-east. I barely find my local news interesting let alone news from another region. There used to be a similar show to this on the channel which was scrapped. Doesn’t that tell us something? Also, will it still be possible to break away to report breaking news?

    The decision to repeat Newsnight on the channel is probably the most bizarre. The show is already in decline and may not even exist in the future if its popularity continues to dwindle. Surely it would make more sense to broadcast the show live on the news channel. The BBC defends the decision by saying the later time slot will appeal to younger viewers - a view which rather contradicts the Beebs decision to shut down BBC Three. Again, what will happen if there is major breaking news?

    The changes the BBC News Channel will experience in the coming months will probably reduce the quality of the channel as a whole. Gone are the days of standard BBC News bulletins from 8:30am in the morning to 01:00 the following morning. After these changes are introduced, the only time of the day that will be unchanged will be the afternoon slot and I’m sure we can always rely on Simon and Jane to provide some stability and order to the day. Not all of the changes to the channel have been bad. The introduction of Business Live has been great and I have warmed somewhat to Outside Source but overall these changes are arguably a step too far and may get in the way of what viewers of a news channel really want: a summary of the news at any time of the day and the latest breaking news. However, there is a real need for cost cuttings and for the BBC to become more efficient in its practices. If these changes are necessary and a part of bigger programme of changes to ensure the BBC’s long-term future then so be it.

    Jack Axford

    Co-editor, BNF


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