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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 13: Financial Challenges of 24-Hour News Channels

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← 164 | 165 →CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Financial Challenges of 24-Hour News Channels

ROBERT G. PICARD



News channels, like all broadcast channels, face fundamental cost and revenue challenges that require them to produce and make available content at costs that can be covered by their sources of revenue. News channels typically operate at lower cost per hour for programming than other channels, however, because they do not have to invest in risky—but highly demanded—original drama and comedy or to engage in heavy rights competition for sports rights and desirable contemporary films.

The amount of money required to operate a 24-hour news channel varies significantly among news channels because it is dependent upon the scale and scope of operations, where the broadcasts will be distributed, and the number of languages in which programming is produced. Costs are thus influenced by whether it is a domestic or international operation, who pays for the distribution of the channel, how much of the programming involves live broadcasts, how much live remote broadcasting is undertaken that requires use of satellite links, the number of news packages reused during the broadcast, repetitious use of broadcasts from earlier in the day, the number of bureaus and correspondents, the extent of multiplatform operation, and other operational factors.

Nonetheless, the basic financial requirements for operating a 24-hour news channel are rather straightforward. An international broadcaster, or one in a large nation, will require £20–35 million ($30–50...

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