'One-minute news' to target youngsters

The BBC already offers One-Minute Movies – a service that lets budding Steven Spielbergs showcase their own short films online, seemingly in a bid to attract a younger audience.

With the same goal, the corporation yesterday unveiled plans at its autumn season launch to nationally roll-out a ‘one-minute news bulletin,’ which is due to screen from BBC1 at 8pm.

First surfaced in May, the plan is to give viewers a rapid run-down of the day’s news events, effectively bridging the gap between the channel’s main hourly bulletins at 6pm and 10pm.

The 8pm programme, which is aimed at viewers with shorter attention spans who might not normally watch BBC news, is scheduled to last no longer than three minutes.

It is expected to be presented by the six o’clock news reader Natasha Kaplinsky, who has taken part in pilots of the programme, which have been broadcast to viewers in Birmingham.

At the time of the trials, the BBC was accused of a “dumbing down” – both by national newspapers and viewers of the pilots, who claimed the brevity trivializes the news stories.

“It was almost embarrassing - and insulting - to watch Natasha Kaplinsky segue into the latest updates on missing child Madeleine McCann with "still no good news from Portugal, I'm afraid", one viewer wrote on the BBC website.

“Why the need for this 'chummy', colloquial approach, when all it does is undermine the seriousness of the news being delivered?”

But Colin Oliver, editor of the BBC’s ten o’clock news, said those who accuse the corporation of “dumbing down” have “got the wrong end of the stick.”

He said: “What we do understand, is that the audience is fracturing as never before - different groups have different needs - and the BBC needs to be able to speak to them all.

“That doesn't mean the summary will be the Daily Star on air, but it does mean that we will explore some areas that are not in our main programmes.”

The charges that rounding up world and domestic events in less than three minutes resurfaced yesterday: a national paper pointed to comments made by Tory MP Philip Davies.

The MP, who is a member of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, has reportedly slammed the Beeb’s plans, saying they ‘treat everyone as if they were thick.”

But responding to the Daily Mail, a BBC spokesperson said: “This is the first additional news on BBC1 since 1984 – how can adding news to the channel be dumbing down?”


13th July 2007

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