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BBC News (TV channel)

BBC News
BBC News.svg
BBC News logo
Launched 9 November 1997
Network BBC Network
Owned by BBC
Picture format 576i (SDTV 16:9),
Audience share 0.9%
(April 2012, BARB)
Slogan "Britain's most watched news channel"
"Whenever you need to know"
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Broadcast area United Kingdom
Formerly called BBC News 24 (1997-2008)
Sister channel(s) BBC One
BBC Three
BBC Four
BBC Parliament
BBC World News
Website www.bbc.co.uk/news
Freeview Channel 80
Freesat Channel 200
Sky (UK only) Channel 503
Astra 1N 10803H 22000 5/6
Virgin Media Channel 601
Smallworld Cable Channel 503
UPC Ireland Channel 201
Naxoo Channel 216
TalkTalk TV Channel 501
Channel arbitrary
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 network 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]

  Move to Broadcasting House

It is expected that the BBC News Channel will relocate, along with other BBC news services including BBC World News to the newly refurbished Broadcasting House in late 2012, after completion of the new television news studios has taken place.



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, the capture of Saddam Hussein, and the death of Osama bin Laden.[16][17] Coverage of major events has also been simulcast on BBC World News. Currently, overnight viewers receive 25 minute editions of BBC News every hour, and on weekdays 0100-0500 receive Newsday, live from Singapore and from London.

  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 was broadcast both on BBC One and the BBC News Channel at 09:00, to replace The Andrew Marr Show, which is off air. It was presented by a newspresenter, and came from the main News channel studio. The programme was made up mostly of interviews focusing on current affairs, and included a full paper review, a weather summary, and a news update at 09:00, 09:30 and 10:00. Sunday Morning Live and alternate programming now fill this slot.

  Exclusive programmes

  Part of the previous BBC News set

Other programming produced solely by the BBC News channel includes the BBC News at Five with Huw Edwards (including Film 24 with Mark Kermode at 17:45 on Fridays, Sportsday (at 18:45, except on Fridays 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 News 24 Tonight a regular weekday evening programme providing a round up of the day's 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. Since 21 April 2008, the overnight bulletins, while produced by the BBC News Channel, have 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 was simulcast on the BBC News channel at 0300UKT. BBC World News America used to be aired as a reduced length, tape-delayed version at 00:30 UKT. ABC World News also used to appear at 0130 every Tuesday-Friday, but this was replaced by Asia Business Report and Sport Today.

From 13 June 2011, the weeknight editions of BBC News at 0100, 0200, 0300 and 0400 were replaced with Newsday. The programme acts as a morning news bulletin for the Asia-Pacific region and is broadcast as a double-headed news bulletin with Rico Hizon in Singapore and Babita Sharma in London's N8 studio. Asia Business Report and Sport Today are aired at the back of the first three hours of Newsday.

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

  A sports bulletin from the BBC Sport Centre with Olly Foster in March 2012

Sports headlines are usually provided at 15 minutes past the hour with a full bulletin after the bottom-of-the-hour headlines. There are also two extended sports bulletins per day, entitled 'Sportsday' broadcast at 18:30 and 22:30 (weekdays only). Each bulletin is read by a single sports presenter, with the exception of Saturday Sportsday, which is double headed. From 5 March 2012 Sports Bulletins come from the BBC Sport Centre in Media City UK in Salford Quays.

Bulletins during BBC Breakfast are presented by Sally Nugent or Mike Bushell, with the latter also appearing on other sports bulletins on the channel. As of March 2012 the main sports presenters on the channel are Olly Foster, Katie Gornall, Katherine Downes, Damian Johnson, Andrew Lindsay and Jenny Culshaw.

Until March 2012 bulletins came from the News Channel studio at 45 minutes past the hour. Presenters for bulletins on the channel have included: Reshmin Choudhury, Amanda Davies, Sean Fletcher, Olly Foster, Matt Gooderick, Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes, Amelia Harris, Celina Hinchcliffe, Rachael Hodges, Damian Johnson, Adnan Nawaz, George Riley and Olympic gold medalist turned journalist Matthew Pinsent.


An hourly business update is included during the weekday schedule from the BBC Business Unit. BBC Breakfast business bulletins are presented by Steph McGovern with Penny Haslam offering relief. On the BBC News Channel, there are two shifts. One from 08:30-14:00 and 14:00-23:00. News channel coverage is often presented by Haslam, Maryam Moshiri, Ben Thompson, Adam Parsons, Susannah Streeter, Joe Lynam, Sara Coburn and Sally Eden. News Channel updates are usually broadcast at 40 minutes past the hour from 08:40 until 22:40. The 21:40 round-up is often earlier and the final bulletin is an extended roundup of the day's business news.

Rico Hizon regularly presents the main business stories from Singapore during the BBC's Asia Business Report, which is simulcast on BBC World News.

Until May 2009, the morning business updates on BBC Breakfast and on the BBC News Channel were broadcast from one of the London Stock Exchange's studios in central London. Since Tuesday, 26 May 2009, those bulletins have been broadcast from TC7 and N6 in Television Centre, the main studios of BBC Breakfast and the BBC News Channel respectively.

  News presenters

Since December 2007, the main regular presenters on the channel have been Simon McCoy, Carrie Gracie, Matthew Amroliwala, Jane Hill, Jon Sopel, Emily Maitlis, Louise Minchin, Huw Edwards, Ben Brown, Joanna Gosling and Chris Eakin.[18] The main weekend presenters include Tim Willcox, Maxine Mawhinney, Nicholas Owen, Clive Myrie and Annita McVeigh. Most of these presenters also regularly stand in during the week.

Rico Hizon (reporting from Singapore), Babita Sharma and Kasia Madera are the main overnight presenters on the channel, appearing on Newsday and generic BBC News bulletins. These programmes are simulcast with BBC World News and either BBC One or BBC Two. Deborah Mackenzie regularly presents at weekends and in place of Sharma and Madera, while Rebecca Pike and Rachel Hodges also appear in these slots. Naga Munchetty, Komla Dumor and Martine Dennis present the BBC World News five o'clock hour, which is also broadcast on the News Channel and BBC One.

The main relief presenters are Martine Croxall, Gavin Esler (BBC News at Five), Sophie Long (mainly weekday afternoons), Rachel Schofield (Monday mornings), Tim Willcox and Julian Worricker (Friday afternoons), while Fiona Armstrong, Ellie Crisell, Ben Geoghagen, Roger Johnson, Kasia Madera, Chris Rogers, Babita Sharma, Julia Somerville, Sue Thearle and Carole Walker also fill in for regular presenters. Armstrong, Somerville and Walker present as part of the BBC's push to "ensure it [has] the best range of faces".[19] They most frequently appear during holidays.

The simulcasting of the main national news bulletins has led to the presenters of those bulletins appearing on the channel, including Huw Edwards, Fiona Bruce, George Alagiah, Sophie Raworth, Kate Silverton and Mishal Husain. The main 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, Susanna Reid (Mondays to Wednesdays), Louise Minchin and Charlie Stayt (Thursdays, Ftidays and weekends).

Zeinab Badawi presents the BBC World News programme Reporters on the channel, while Esler presents Dateline London. Stephen Sackur appears on Hardtalk, which is aired weeknights and at weekends, while Badawi, Gracie and Sarah Montague provide cover for him. Spencer Kelly presents the technology news programme Click. Today host Evan Davis presents The Bottom Line, and Victoria Derbyshire appears on Victoria Derbyshire Interviews. Dominic Byrne presents Newsbeat's Oddbox.

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, while channel presenters and former reporters Ben Brown and Clive Myrie were dispatched to Cairo and Tripoli during the Middle East uprisings.



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 5 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 NationsScotland, 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.[20]

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.[21] 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 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 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. The titles concluded with a red globe surrounded by a red stylised clamshell and BBC News ribbons forming above the BBC News logo.

Bulletins on BBC One moved into a new set in January 2003 although retained the previous ivory Lambie-Nairn titles until February 2004. 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.[22]

  Countdown sequence

  The countdown since 2008 has shown the elements of journalism and production involved in bringing news stories to air

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 5 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 new sequence was introduced on 28 March 2005, designed and created by Red Bee Media and directed by Mark Chaudoir. The full version ran for 60 seconds, though only around 30 seconds were usually shown on air. The music was revised completely but the biggest change came in the footage used – reflecting the methods and nature of newsgathering, while a strong emphasis was 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 BBC News Online and David Lowe's own after a remix on 16 May 2006.[23]

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 on 10 May 2010. In June 2011, further imagery was added relating to recent events, including the conflict in Libya and views of outside 10 Downing Street.

  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[dead link]
  14. ^ "Editoral processes – How BBC News works". BBC Trust. 22 January 2007. http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/review_report_research/impartiality_business/f2_news_submission.txt. Retrieved 19 June 2007. 
  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. ^ Main BBC News Channel Presenters
  19. ^ Julia Somerville to present on BBC News channel BBC News, 23 December 2009
  20. ^ About BBC News TV Home
  21. ^ "BBC News – The Editors – Fine tuning". 22 January 2007. http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2007/01/fine_tuning.html. 
  22. ^ BBC News 24 2003–08 TV & Radio Bits
  23. ^ News 24 'releases' countdown music – BBC News Online, 18 May 2006

  External links



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