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The Future of 24-Hour News

New Directions, New Challenges

Edited By Stephen Cushion and Richard Sambrook

Over the last 30 years 24-hour television news channels have reshaped the practice and culture of journalism. But the arrival of new content and social media platforms over recent years has challenged their power and authority, with fast-changing technologies accelerating the speed of news delivery and reshaping audience behaviour. Following on from The Rise of 24-Hour News Television: Global Perspectives (Cushion and Lewis, 2010), this volume explores new challenges and pressures facing television news channels, and considers the future of 24-hour news. Featuring a wide range of industry and academic perspectives, including the heads of some of the major international news channels (BBC Global News, Al Jazeera and Sky News, among others) as well as leading academics from around the world, contributors reflect on how well rolling television news is reinventing itself for digital platforms and the rapidly changing expectations of audiences. Overall, the 24 chapters in this volume deliver fresh insights into how 24-hour news channels have redefined rolling news journalism – or potentially could do – in order to remain relevant and effective in supplying continuous news for 21st-century audiences.
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Chapter 6: The View from the UK: Sky News


← 72 | 73 →CHAPTER SIX

The View from the UK: Sky News


The first television broadcast I remember was Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral on January 30, 1965. I was three years old. My parents and I huddled around the tiny flickering black-and-white screen as the great man’s coffin was borne on a gun carriage from Westminster to St Paul’s. It was watched on television by 25 million people in Britain and an estimated 350 million around the globe. Such was the power of a shared event, even in those early, pioneering days of television.

In the years that followed there have been many more moments when TV brought us together: the moon landings, the splashdown of the crippled Apollo 13, Princess Diana’s funeral, the 9/11 and 7/7 terrorist attacks, the “shock and awe” bombardment of Iraq. We often refer to them as “where were you?” moments, though perhaps “who were you with?” moments is better because so often they were shared experiences. The arrival of Sky News, in 1989, and the other rolling news channels cemented in our collective consciousness the idea of witnessing events live, as they happened.

Half a century after Churchill’s funeral, almost every home in Britain has multiple TVs, yet an audience of 25 million for a single live event is very rare indeed. In recent times only the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics came close.1 The...

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