BBC: News 24 is unrivalled

The BBC was yesterday flexing its news muscles with the release of fresh figures it hailed as proof it now has over 50% more viewers than its archrival Sky News.

The public broadcaster said News 24 has extended its weekly lead over BSkyB’s news offering, having 6.6million viewers compared to the company’s 4.3million.

In its annual release of ratings, the BBC said all of its news bulletins have grown their audiences, as did its always-on service, which it trumpeted as the “most watched news channel” in the UK.

The declaration comes just two months ahead of the Royal Television Society’s Journalism Awards, when experts make their decisions about the best TV journalists of 2007 (entries closed in November).

In line with its upbeat presentation of itself, the BBC won two categories at the 2006 awards in February: for the best Current Affairs Documentaries, and Camera Operator of the Year.

But as it is “frequently first with the news” the award for News Channel of the Year went to Sky News, while Television Journalist of the Year went to Dominic Waghorn, a Sky News reporter.

Sky also won Best International News coverage, and failed to lose to the BBC in any of the contest’s 18 separate categories, but was beaten to major awards by Channel 4 News.

Following recent bumps at the BBC, among them the resignation of its controller after a row over a documentary about the Queen, all of its editorial staff are being given lessons in “Safeguarding Trust.”

Disclosures obtained by Pandora, the Independent’s columnist, reveal that even Mark Thompson, the BBC’s director-general, is taking the test, which asks staff to distinguish between ‘acceptable artifice’ (asking viewers to suspend their belief) and ‘deceit.’

In a video clip, staff are shown a tasty-looking fruit pie steaming away. The clip is then reportedly captioned by a question, asking: is it acceptable to hide a wet, microwaved tampon behind a dish to make the food appear piping hot?

Apparently this unsanitary test is actually enlightening Beeb footsoldiers on how to fool us – or as the industry says ‘suspend our belief’. One employee was quoted as saying: “I didn’t even know you could do that. This has been very educational.”

Meanwhile, the paper reported that viewers should look out for “cock-ups galore” next month from BBC News, as the closure of a studio for renovation means all news programmes will be lumped together in a single room, meaning much less time for rehearsal and set changes.


18th December 2007

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