BBC News (TV channel): Wikis


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BBC News
BBC News.svg
BBC News logo
Launched 9 November 1997
Owned by BBC
Audience share 0.8% (December 2009, BARB)
Slogan "Britain's most watched news channel"
"Whenever you need to know"
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Formerly called BBC News 24
Sister channel(s) BBC One,
BBC Two,
BBC Three,
BBC Four,
BBC Parliament,
BBC World News
Website BBC News
Analogue Overnight on
BBC One or BBC Two
Freeview Channel 80
Freesat Channel 200
Sky Digital Channel 503
Astra 2A 11954 H / 27500 / 2/3
Virgin Media Channel 601
UPC Ireland Channel 201
Naxoo Channel 216
TalkTalk TV Channel 501
Internet television
BBC News Online Watch live (UK only)
TVCatchup Watch live (UK only)
BBC iPlayer Watch live (UK only)

BBC News (also referred to as the BBC News Channel) is the BBC's 24 hour rolling news television channel in the United Kingdom. The channel launched as BBC News 24 on 9 November 1997 at 17:30 as part of the BBC's foray into digital domestic television channels, becoming the first competitor to Sky News, which had been running since 1989.[1] Since then, with several relaunches, an increase in funding and resources from the BBC and improvements in digital television technology, the channel has been able to diversify content, with two minute looped bulletins available to view via BBC Red Button, BBC News Online and the BBC's mobile website, alongside individual weather and sport bulletins. In May 2007 the channel became available for UK viewers to view through the BBC News website through a live stream. In April 2008 the channel was renamed "BBC News" as part of a £550,000 rebranding of the BBC's news output, complete with a new studio and presentation. Its sister services, BBC World was also renamed as "BBC World News" while the national news bulletins became BBC News at One, BBC News at Six and BBC News at Ten.

As a major part of the BBC News department, the channel is based at and broadcast from the News Centre within BBC Television Centre in West London.[2] The channel was named RTS News Channel of the Year in 2006 and again in 2009.



BBC News 24 was originally available only to analogue cable television subscribers. To this day it and BBC Parliament remain the only BBC "digital" channels which are made available to analogue cable subscribers. This coverage was improved in 1998 with the advent of digital television in the United Kingdom allowing satellite and digital terrestrial television viewers to also view the service. Initially it was difficult to obtain a digital satellite or terrestrial receiver without a subscription to Sky or ONdigital respectively, but now the channel forms an important part of the Freeview package of channels.

The BBC had run the international news channel BBC World for two and a half years prior to the launch of BBC News 24 on 9 November 1997. Sky News had had a free hand with domestic news for over eight years (since 5 February 1989) and being owned by News International their papers were used to criticise the BBC for extending its news output.[3]

Sky News objected to the breaking of its monopoly, complaining about the costs associated with running a channel that only a minority could view from the licence fee. Sky News claimed that a number of British cable operators had been incentivised to carry News 24 (which, as a licence-fee funded channel was made available to such operators for free) in preference to the commercial Sky News. However, in September 1999 the European Commission ruled against a complaint made by Sky News that the publicly funded channel was unfair and illegal under EU law. The Commission ruled that the licence fee should be considered state aid but that such aid was justified due to the public service remit of the BBC and that it did not exceed actual costs.[4]

The channel's journalistic output has been overseen by Controller of the channel, Kevin Bakhurst, since 16 December 2005. This was a return to having a dedicated Controller for the channel in the same way as the rest of the BBC's domestic television channels. At launch, Tim Orchard was Controller of News 24 from 1997 until 2000. Editorial decisions were then overseen by Rachel Atwell in her capacity as Deputy Head of television news. Her deputy Mark Popescu became responsible for editorial content in 2004, a role he continued in until the appointment of Bakhurst as Controller in 2005.[5]

A further announcement by Head of television news Peter Horrocks came at the same time as Bakhurst's appointment in which he outlined his plan to provide more funding and resources for the channel and shift the corporation's emphasis regarding news away from the traditional BBC One bulletins and across to the rolling news channel. The introduction of simulcasts of the main bulletins on the channel was to allow the news bulletins to pool resources rather than work against each other at key times in the face of competition particularly from Sky News.[6]

The BBC Governors' annual report for 2005/2006 reported that average audience figures for fifteen minute periods had reached 8.6% in multichannel homes, up from 7.8% in 2004/2005.[7] The 2004 report claimed that the channel outperformed Sky News in both weekly and monthly reach in multichannel homes for the January 2004 period, and for the first time in two years moved ahead of Sky News in being perceived as the channel best for news.[8]

On 22 February 2006, the channel was named News Channel of the Year at the Royal Television Society Television Journalism Awards for the first time in its history.[9] The judges remarked that this was the year that the channel had "really come into its own."[10]


2008 Rebranding

On 21 April 2008 BBC News 24 was renamed BBC News on the channel itself - but is referred to as the BBC News Channel on other BBC services.[11] This is part of the creative futures plan, launched in 2006, to bring all BBC News output under the single brand name.[12]

The BBC News Channel moved from the Studio N8 set (now home to BBC World News) to what was the home of the national news in Studio N6, allowing the Channel to share its set with the BBC News at One and the BBC News at Ten - with other bulletins moving to studio TC7.[13]



Each hour consists of headlines on each quarter hour, extended at the top of the hour to form the main part of the daily schedule though these are interspaced with other programmes, generally at weekends. This will be often be displaced by rolling news coverage including reports and live interviews. Weather summaries are provided every half hour by forecasters from the BBC Weather Centre while business and sport updates are also presented generally from within the main studio.

Breaking news

The BBC maintains guidelines for procedures to be taken for breaking news.[14] With domestic news, the correspondent first records a "generic minute" summary (for use by all stations and channels) and then priority is to report on BBC Radio 5 Live, then on the BBC News Channel and any other programmes that are on air. For foreign news, first a "generic minute" is recorded, then reports are to World Service radio, then the reporter talks to any other programmes that are on air.

A key claim made by Lord Lambert in his report had been that the channel was slower to react to breaking news compared with its main rival Sky News.[15] To counteract this, a new feature introduced with the 2003 relaunch was a 'breaking news sting': a globe shown briefly onscreen to direct a viewer's attention to the breaking news.

The graphics relaunch in January 2007 has since seen the globe sting replaced by a red strapline to highlight the breaking story immediately.

To complement this, a permanent live news ticker had earlier been introduced in 2006: this had only previously been in use sporadically. News statements are shown as continuously-scrolling upper-case text located at the bottom of the screen; some past ambiguities noted have included spelling the plural of MPs as "MPS", together with other occasional spelling and grammatical errors. The design of this ticker was slightly altered with the 2007 graphics redesign and from June turned red to indicate breaking news, as Newswatch reported viewers' confusion.

Overnight and special simulcasts

The BBC began simulcasting the channel overnight on terrestrial channel BBC One with the launch of the channel, ending the tradition of a closedown but at the same time effectively making the service available to many more viewers. In the early 2000s, BBC Two also started simulcasting the channel, although the weekend morning show Weekend 24 had been simulcast on the channel in the early days. During major breaking news events, the BBC News Channel has been broadcast on BBC One; examples of special broadcasts include the 11 September 2001 attacks, 7 July 2005 London bombings and the capture of Saddam Hussein.[16][17] Coverage of major events has also been simulcast on BBC World News.

Simulcast BBC One programmes

Since the launch of Breakfast in 2000, the programme has been simulcast on both BBC One and BBC News, replacing the individual breakfast news programmes that had been run by both channels. Since May 2006, the simulcast begins with the programme at 06:00 until 08:30 when programming on BBC News begins. Breakfast on BBC One then generally continues until 09:15.

The BBC News at Ten began simulcasting on the channel on 30 January 2006 as part of the Ten O'Clock Newshour, followed by extended sport and business news updates. The bulletin was joined in being simulcast on 10 April 2006 when the BBC News at One (with British Sign Language in-vision signing) and BBC News at Six bulletins were added to the schedule following a similar format to the News at Ten in terms of content on the channel once each simulcast ends.

During the Summer, the hour long programme News 24 Sunday is broadcast both on BBC One and the BBC News Channel at 09:00, to replace The Andrew Marr Show, which is off air. It is presented by a newspresenter, and comes from the main News channel studio. The programme is made up mostly of interviews focusing on current affairs, and includes a full paper review, a weather summary, and a news update at 09:00, 09:30 and 10:00.

Exclusive programmes

Part of the previous BBC News set.

Other programming produced solely by the BBC News channel includes the BBC News at Five O'Clock with Huw Edwards (including Film 24 with Mark Kermode at 17:45 on Fridays), Entertainment programme E24 (at 18:30 and 21:30, with Tasmin Lucia Khan), Sportsday (at 18:45, except on Friday and Saturdays when it is from 18:30, plus 22:30 every weekday) and Newswatch (Friday 20:45, Saturday 07:45).

Programmes including Click, Dateline London, HARDtalk, Our World, E24, The Record Europe, Reporters, Straight Talk and Your Money appear regularly in the weekend schedules. Many of these programmes also appear throughout the week on BBC News's sister channel BBC World News.

Previous BBC News programming includes Head 2 Head, Your News, STORYFix and BBC News 24 Tonight a regular weekday evening programme providing a round up of the days news which ran from 2005 to 2008.

BBC World News shared programming

Between 01:00 and 06:00 UK Time (UKT) the channel simulcasts with its sister channel, BBC World News, for the first 25 minutes of each hour with world news shown all through the simulcasts. Non-World programmes air generally on the half hour, notably ABC World News Tonight at 01:30. Since 21 April 2008, the overnight bulletins, while produced by the BBC News Channel has usually been broadcast from the studios of BBC World News.

On 1 October 2007, BBC World News started broadcasting BBC World News America and World News Today at 00:00 and 03:00 UKT respectively. World News Today is simulcast on the BBC News channel while BBC World News America, airs a delayed version at 00:30 UKT.

BBC World News and World Business Report air at 5.00 on both channels and in lieu of commercials seen on the international broadcasts, the presenters give a brief update on UK news for domestic audiences.

Sport coverage

In 1990, new broadcaster British Satellite Broadcasting launched its new satellite television service. During the news programmes on Galaxy and Now and during the sports news programme on The Sports Channel clips from other broadcaster's sports output would be used to illustrate the sports headlines. The BBC took BSB to court to sue them for copyright violation for showing highlights of the BBC's live broadcasts of the 1990 FIFA World Cup football matches. The High Court of Justice decided that the rebroadcasts were for the purposes of reporting the news and were legal, even if the highlights were also entertaining, the BBC lost the case but set a legal precedent.[18]

This has allowed all UK television broadcasters to legally package highlights from their own and other broadcasters' output into news programmes without payment or permission, as only a caption indicating the originating broadcaster is required.

This has allowed the BBC to benefit from the action it took against BSB, to provide a cut-price sport news service since the channel launched. As the precedent only applies to television, Sky News is not streamed online as the criticism and review provision used does not apply outside broadcast television. Since the beginning of May 2007, the BBC News Channel has been streamed online.[19]

Sports bulletins are usually at 45 minutes past the hour, with headlines at 15 minutes past the hour. There are also two extended sports bulletins per day, entitled 'Sportsday' broadcast at 18:45 (18:30 Friday and Saturday) and 22:30 (weekdays only). Each bulletin is read by a single sports presenter, with the exception of Saturday Sportsday, which is double headed. Bulletins during BBC Breakfast are presented by Chris Hollins or Mike Bushell, with the latter also appearing on other sports bulletins on the channel. The other presenters for bulletins on the channel are Sonja McLaughlan, Celina Hinchcliffe, Alison Mitchell, George Riley, Amanda Davies, Sean Fletcher, David Garrido, Adnan Nawaz, Amelia Harris, Gavin Ramjaun, Matthew Pinsent, Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes and Robin Bailey. These presenters also often produce reports on major sports stories, as well as appearing on the BBC One weekend bulletins.


An hourly business update is included during the weekday schedule from the BBC Business Unit, usually presented by Simon Jack or Aaron Heslehurst during BBC Breakfast and through the morning until the BBC News at One and Dominic Laurie or Sonali Shah later on in the day. Other presenters include Babita Sharma (currently appearing on overnight bulletins), Joe Lynam, Maryam Moshiri and Sally Eden. These updates are usually broadcast at 40 minutes past the hour from 08:40 until 22:40. The final bulletin is an extended roundup of the day's business news. It was during a Business segment that Karen Bowerman famously interviewed Guy Goma thinking him to be Guy Kewney.

From Tuesday, 26 May 2009, the morning business updates were presented from the main BBC Breakfast and BBC News Channel studio sets, rather than outside broadcast from the studio at the City of London. The reason for this change is not known.

News presenters

Regular presenters

Since December 2007, the main regular presenters on the channel have been Simon McCoy, Carrie Gracie, Matthew Amroliwala, Jane Hill, Jon Sopel, Louise Minchin, Huw Edwards, Ben Brown, Joanna Gosling and Chris Eakin[20]. The main weekend presenters include Tim Willcox, Maxine Mawhinney, Nicholas Owen, Sophie Long, Clive Myrie and Annita McVeigh[21]. Some of these presenters also regularly stand in during the week. Currently the regular overnight presenters on the channel, which simulcasts with BBC World News and BBC One or BBC Two at these times, include Martine Croxall, Alastair Yates, James Dagwell, Kasia Madera and Babita Sharma, with Croxall also appearing during the day.

Regular relief presenters on the channel include Ellie Crisell, Gavin Esler, Ben Geoghagen, Robert Hall, Emily Maitlis, Rachel Schofield, Sue Thearle, Roger Johnson, Luisa Baldini and Julian Worricker.

As part of the BBC's push to "ensure it had the best range of faces" on the channel, Julia Somerville, Fiona Armstrong, Zeinab Badawi and Carole Walker - all women believed to be over the age of fifty - will present on the channel. [22]

The simulcasting of the main national news bulletins has led to the presenters of those bulletins appearing on the channel, with these presenters currently including Sophie Raworth, George Alagiah, Huw Edwards and Fiona Bruce. The main BBC Breakfast presenters have also appeared on the channel since it was first launched as a simulcast programme in 2000, with the current presenters being Bill Turnbull, Sian Williams (Mondays to Thursdays), Charlie Stayt and Susanna Reid (Fridays and weekends).

During a major news event one or more of the main news presenters may be sent to present live for the channel from the scene of the story, where they will conduct interviews with the people involved, question correspondents, introduce related reports and also give general information on the story, much as a reporter sent to cover a story would. The presenters often have expertise in the story they are sent to cover, for example, former Paris correspondent Jon Sopel presented coverage of the 2007 French presidential elections.

Past presenters

Past presenters on BBC News include Peter Coe, Stephen Cole (now with Al Jazeera English), Peter Dobbie (now with BBC World News), Gwenan Edwards, Mike Embley (now with BBC World News), Adrian Finighan (now with CNN International), Stuart Flinders (back with BBC North West Tonight) Kate Garraway (now with GMTV), Krishnan Guru-Murthy (now with Channel 4 News), Jackie Hardgrave, Andrew Harvey, Philip Hayton, Anna Jones (now with Sky News), Chris Lowe, Claire Marshall (now Midlands correspondent) Sarah Montague (now presenting Today on Radio 4), John Nicolson, Liz Pike, Martin Popplewell (working freelance for Sky News}, David Robertson (subsequently with Reporting Scotland), Valerie Sanderson, Manisha Tank (now with CNN International), Dharshini David (now working for Sky News) and Philippa Thomas (now with BBC World News).



The channel was criticised at launch for its style of presentation, with accusations of it being less authoritative than the BBC One news bulletins, with presenters appearing onscreen without jackets. Jenny Abramsky had originally planned to have a television version of the informal news radio channel BBC Radio Five Live, or a TV version of Radio 4 News FM both of which she had run. The bright design of the set was also blamed for this - one insider reportedly described it as a "car crash in a shower"[1] - and was subject to the network relaunch on 25 October 1999. The channel swapped studios with sister channel BBC World, moving to studio N8 within the newsroom, where it remained until 2008. New music and title sequences accompanied this set change, following the look of newly relaunched BBC One bulletins.

Graphics and titles were developed by the Lambie-Nairn design agency and were gradually rolled out across the whole of BBC News, including a similar design for regional news starting with Newsroom South East and the three BBC Nations - Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The similarity of main BBC News output was intended to increase the credibility of the channel as well as aiding cross channel promotion.[23]

A graphics relaunch in January 2007 saw the channel updated, with redesigned headline straplines, a redesigned 'Digital on-screen graphic' and repositioned clock. The clock was originally placed to the left hand side of the channel name though following complaints that this could only be viewed in widescreen, it was moved to the right in February 2007.[24] Bulletins on BBC World News and BBC One also introduced similar graphics and title sequences on the same day.

In 2008 the graphics were again relaunched, using the style introduced in 2007 and a new colour scheme.

The Lambert report

The ribbon effect news headline.

The Lambert Report into the channel's performance in 2002 called upon News 24 to develop a better brand of its own, to allow viewers to differentiate between itself and similar channels such as Sky News. As a direct result of this, a brand new style across all presentation for the channel launched on Monday 8 December 2003 at 09:00. Philip Hayton and Anna Jones were the first two presenters on the set, the relaunch of which had been put back a week due to previous power disruptions at Television Centre where the channel is based. The new designs also featured a dynamic set of titles for the channel; the globe would begin spinning from where the main story was taking place, while the headline scrolled around in a ribbon; this was occasionally replaced by the BBC News logo.

Bulletins on BBC One adopted the style later in February 2004 despite moving into a new set in January 2003 but retaining the previous ivory Lambie-Nairn titles. News 24 updated the title colours slightly to match those of BBC One bulletins in time for the 50th anniversary of BBC television news on 5 July 2004.[25]

Countdown sequence

The countdown since 2005 has shown the elements of journalism and production involved in bringing news stories to air.
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An important part of the channel's presentation since launch has been the top of the hour countdown sequence, since there is no presentation system with continuity announcers so the countdown provides a link to the beginning of the next hour. A similar musical device is used on BBC Radio Five Live, and mirrors the pips on BBC Radio 4.

Previous styles have included a series of fictional flags set to music between 1997 and 1999 before the major relaunch, incorporating the new contemporary music composed by David Lowe, and graphics developed by Lambie-Nairn. Various images, originally ivory numbers fully animated against a deep red background, were designed to fit the pace of the channel, and the music soon gained notoriety, and was often satirised and parodied in popular culture, perhaps most famously by comic Bill Bailey who likened the theme music to an "apocalyptic rave". Images of life around the UK were added in replacement later with the same music, together with footage of the newsroom and exterior of Television Centre. The 2003 relaunch saw a small change to this style with less of a metropolitan feel to the footage.

A brand new version was introduced on 28 March 2005, designed and created by Red Bee Media and directed by Mark Chaudoir was launched. The full version runs for 60 seconds, though only around 30 seconds are shown on air. The music was revised completely but the biggest change came in the footage used - it now reflects the methods and nature of newsgathering, while a strong emphasis is placed on the BBC logo itself. Satellite dishes are shown transmitting and receiving red "data streams". In production of the countdown sequence, Clive Norman filmed images around the United Kingdom, Richard Jopson in the United States, while BBC News cameramen filmed images from Iraq, Beijing (Great Wall of China), Bund of Shanghai, Africa, as well as areas affected by the 2004 Asian Tsunami and others.

The sequence has since seen several remixes to the music and a change in visuals to focus more on the well-known journalists, with less footage of camera crews and production teams. Changes have also seen the channel logo included during the sequences and at the end, as well as the fonts used for the time. The conclusion of the countdown was altered in 2008 to feature the new presentation style, rather than a data stream moving in towards the camera.

A full three minute version of the countdown music was made available on the BBC News website and David Lowe's own after a remix on 16 May 2006.[26]

An international version of the countdown was launched on BBC World News on 5 September 2005 featuring more international content and similar music. Various changes have been made to the music and visuals since then, with presentation following the style of BBC News.

The visuals in the sequence were updated in 2008.

See also


  1. ^ a b About BBC News 24 TV Home
  2. ^ About BBC News 1997: News on the move
  3. ^ The Sky News Blog-A New Angle In The News? Tips 'N' Tutorials
  4. ^ BBC News 24 (State aid) Reckon Regulation & Competition Economics LLP
  5. ^ BBC to revamp TV news operation - BBC News Online, 8 November 2005
  6. ^ BBC announces changes to Television News TV Newsroom, 8 November 2005
  7. ^ BBC Governor's Annual Report 2005/2006 Page 47
  8. ^ BBC News 24 edging ahead of Sky News Neil Wilkes; Digital Spy, 19 August 2004
  9. ^ BBC winners at TV journalism awards Dave West; Digital Spy, 23 February 2006
  10. ^ News 24 wins news channel of the year Newswatch - BBC News Online, 23 February 2006
  11. ^ BBC News 24 to be renamed Times Online
  12. ^ Creative Futures Plan The Guardian
  13. ^ 2008 Changes
  14. ^ "Editoral processes - How BBC News works". BBC Trust. 2007-01-22. Retrieved 2007-06-19. 
  15. ^ Getting creative breakthrough...-About BBC News TV Home
  16. ^ News 24 claims July victory Neil Wilkes; Digital Spy, 1 August 2005
  17. ^ News 24 top for rolling news TV Newsroom, 21 August 2005
  18. ^ Transformative Use of Copyright Material page 141
  19. ^ "Press Release: BBC News 24 streamed live on BBC News website permanently". BBC Press Office. Retrieved 25 May 2007. 
  20. ^ BBC News Channel Presenters - Weekdays
  21. ^ BBC News Channel Presenters - Weekends
  22. ^ Julia Somerville to present on BBC News channel - BBC News
  23. ^ About BBC News TV Home
  24. ^ "BBC News - The Editors - Fine tuning". 22 January 2007. 
  25. ^ BBC News 24 2003-08 TV & Radio Bits
  26. ^ News 24 'releases' countdown music - BBC News Online, 18 May 2006

External links


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