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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 7: The View from the UK: The BBC – “Channel Wars, Streaming Wars”


← 82 | 83 →CHAPTER SEVEN

The View from the UK: The BBC—“Channel Wars, Streaming Wars”


I remember the good old days of the TV news channel wars in the UK. It felt like we were battling for victory one remote handset at a time. How the BBC won that war holds some clues for the digital battles now being waged for the aftermath of 24-hour TV news.

Back in 2005, I was tasked by BBC bosses with ensuring that BBC News 24 (now the BBC News channel) overtake Sky News in the UK. The first battleground was not in viewers’ homes, but in the newsrooms of London and the political offices of Westminster and Whitehall.

Firstly, I persuaded Kevin Bakhurst, foremost producer and editor of BBC TV news bulletins at that time, to apply for, and then become the controller of News 24. (The fact that the respected Kevin Bakhurst might demean himself by getting involved in “rolling news” in itself sent waves through the BBC newsroom and its correspondents around the world). Kevin and I then embarked on a comprehensive plan—of PR. We toured the news desks of London, pointing out exclusive stories and interviews that the BBC was beginning to break as fast as Sky News.

Journalists and politicians had used Sky News as their default, always-on news source ever since it had launched in...

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