News

BBC News channel

On 21st April 2008, a series of cutbacks meant some major changes to the BBC's rolling news channel - including its name.

As part of a plan to bring all domestic news output under the 'BBC News' brand, the '24' was dropped from the name and the channel would henceforth be known simply as 'BBC News' - though in practice this meant it would normally be referred to as the 'BBC News channel'.

The new look was heralded by another new title sequence, identical to that seen on BBC1.


The BBC News channel would now share the studio used by the BBC1 network bulletins, known as studio N6. This was in order that the (also renamed) BBC World News could move to News 24's old home, N8, allowing World's old home, N9 (where News 24 first started), to be mothballed. It was the first time the channel would be presented without a real newsroom as the backdrop, though a faux 'newsroom' background appeared on the screens behind the presenters.

The change in studios in 2008 was only ever intended as a stop-gap, however, as at that time the brand new BBC News centre was under construction in New Broadcasting House in central London.


After many delays, the news operation moved to its new headquarters on 18th March 2013. The BBC News channel continued to use the same set as the bulletins on BBC1, but this was now back to being placed within the hubbub of the newsroom, helping the channel to feel more 'alive' again after five years stuck in a shoebox-like studio. It also led to a surreal moment when Her Majesty the Queen was seen behind the presenters when she arrived to officially open the new building.

The most recent changes to presentation came in July 2019 with the introduction of the BBC's Reith typeface to all graphics, including the countdown.

It also extended to redesigned 'lower thirds', which replaced the headlines ticker with a 'flipper', and involved a large expanse of white at the bottom of the screen. The overall effect was to make the graphics somewhat more intrusive than previously.

With the BBC was being forced to make ever more cutbacks to services right across the corporation, the BBC News channel has, in recent years, perhaps been seen as an easy target for cuts. During the 2010s there was a gradual move from double to single-headed presentation, and many more simulcasts were introduced with other channels in order to save money, such as the Victoria Derbyshire programme, which also aired on BBC2, and a repeat of Newsnight immediately following the BBC2 broadcast (both have since ceased).

A number of additional daily simulcasts with the BBC World News channel were also introduced, such as Business Live, Beyond 100 Days and Outside Source. Talk of a full merger with BBC World News has, however, been dismissed. Even so, by 2017, the channel's own output had incredibly been reduced to less than eight hours a day, a far cry from the 24 hours it enjoyed in 1997!

The channel has had its lighter moments, making the headlines itself in 2006 when Guy Goma, who was waiting in the BBC reception area, was mistaken for technology expert Guy Kewney and was unwittingly put live on air to be interviewed about a court case involving Apple Computers. There was also the 'BBC News dancer', Corville Cuffy, who became an internet sensation after he was filmed bopping to the countdown theme. And who can forget Simon McCoy reading the headlines whilst holding a wodge of paper?

In contrast to how channel the ignored its tenth birthday, the channel celebrated its twentieth anniversary by playing out some of the old countdowns and flags sequences, bringing back past presenters and interviewing Lord Hall, now director general of the BBC, but who in 1997 was the head of BBC News who championed the launch of the channel.

Though he gave an upbeat assessment of the channel's prospects, with the gradual chipping away of the service, along with the myriad ways people are able to catch up with the news nowadays - why wait for the stories you're interested in to come round on a rolling news channel when you can follow it straight away, any time you like online? - one has to wonder if the channel will still exist at all in another twenty years' time - or even ten?


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Our YouTube channel includes a playlist of BBC News channel title sequences and countdowns.


Links

BBC News channel official site
BBC News channel Wikipedia entry