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Thursday, 31 August, 2000, 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK
Is the BBC right to move the news?
Some politicians have voiced concern that the BBC may be tempted to 'dumb down' the news in a bid to increase its ratings.
It follows an earlier controversy when ITN moved its flagship News at Ten, a decision that is being challenged by the Independent Television Commission.
But does it matter when the main news bulletin is shown, especially in the digital era when news is increasingly available around the clock? Is this an issue of concern or an example of media self-obsession? Is the BBC right to move the news?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Surely more important are the other measures announced. It appears that with the BBC changing the focus of the channels, and splitting them over 4 instead of 2, I, as a license payer, am going to be robbed of watching some of the better quality programs and left with soaps and fly-on-the-wall docu-soaps unless I fork out for digital TV. Fine, do this when analogue is switched off, but not before!
There are enough sources of news anyway - don't forget radio for those who don't get teletext or the Intranet - or even good old newspapers
David Elliott, UK
I never watched ITN's News at Ten, so I doubt that I will watch the new BBC Ten o' Clock News. 9pm is a convenient time to watch news for me personally, so I'll move over to the very good BBC News 24.
Greg Dyke is right to think what will
happen to the BBC in the now near
future when TV viewing is
fragmented even more by the
expansion of digital broadcasting.
A few years ago even 5 channels
were unthinkable; now we already
have dozens and it will soon be
hundreds, some of which will be the
BBC, and one of which will be a
BBC has every right to move its 9
o'clock news forward. However, in
doing so, has it forgotten to consider
the convenience of viewers?
For 30 years, it has dutifully
brought the news to our goggle box
on the dot of 9. We have all grown
so accustomed to it that it would not
be easy for us to make the switch.
Paul Rowden, UK
Personally I think that it's a stupid idea to move the 9 O'clock news. There are few of the programmes that are broadcast after 10 that I particularly want to watch. However, I daresay that the 'powers that be' will do what they wish and have their own way regarding the move. I just hope that they don't end up calling it "Not The Nine O'clock News" - That would be TOO much!
Originality is not BBC's theme. It is simply cashing in on the controversy surrounding ITN's move and wants to, credibly, compete in a ratings war. Mr Dyke
does not seem too concerned about the public's perception towards viewing programs.
What does this mean for the only news programme I watch: Newsnight? Will moving BBC ONE's news until later in the evening ultimately result in the demise of "serious" news analysis on BBC television?
No! At the moment the BBC has the advantage because the news at nine is a buffer for the watershed. If moved drama on BBC1 can only become dumbed down and less gritty...please BBC don't make that mistake!
Well done the BBC! 10 o'clock is the ideal time for an evening news programme: especially for those of us having a late finish to our working day.
Martin Everitt, UK
9pm is still early evening and should be for
non-news and drama or sport. I normally
change channels at 9pm so as not to see another news.
It is after all only 2 hours after the finish of the early
evening news in Scotland. Too soon for
another news. I think it should be moved.
What possible difference does it make if the BBC move the news? The proposals are for after the analogue switch-off, when every active television set in the country will be able to receive BBC NEWS 24 free of charge 24 hours a day for no extra charge.
The real question is, why would the BBC waste our licence fee broadcasting news on BBC ONE at a time when, as I have already said, we will all be paying for NEWS24 24/7?
I feel that moving the 9 o'clock news is a dreadful idea. When I am living in England I find that it is the perfect time to hear the evening news. Now we must wait until 10pm to see our news.
Playing the field, Glasgow Kiss, Fish, Dangerfield, Love Hurts, The Royale Family, all quality BRITISH dramas, starting that bit earlier opens them up to a wider audience. If you want news, and you don't have digital or internet, go and buy a newspaper! And also Newsnight is often not just a news bulletin but an in-depth discussion
The elderly are penalised again! I am sure will not want to wait up until ten o'clock for the latest news and probably can't afford or cope with the technicalities of digital services.
The 9 o'clock news has grown to be the watershed between family viewing and adult viewing.
10 o'clock is a much better time to draw that divide.
Why move it?
Most evenings these days it's about the only programme worth seeing - unfortunately. Now we have to wait until 10pm.
It's interesting that so many in this forum cite the availability of internet and digital news channels as justification for their view that the timing of the BBC news does not matter. Personally, movement of the news program would not concern me, as I have access to these alternative channels. However, if I was living on a state pension and could only just afford the license fee, I might think very differently. Given that everyone participating in this debate must at least have access to the internet, I would question whether a truly balanced view is being presented here. Maybe the BBC should poll a representative sample of license holders for a true view.
This is very encouraging, Dyke had a shaky start but seems to be showing he is no-ones puppet and that he is not a political appendage.
He is realistic about the actual value of household names and the need for high grade drama.
I know several older viewers in their seventies and eighties for whom the Nine O'clock News is an esssential part of the day. They usually go to bed afterwards: if the BBC decide to move the news on BBC1 they would need at least a short bulletin on BBC2 for viewers like these who also do not have the alternative of satellite television.
And there goes the BBC, finally downhill,
the last bastion of civilisation. Why
can a movie not be interrupted for a
Next there will be commercials to pester us
and in a few years nothing will
distinguish the BBC from the trash broadcast in
most of the world.
Stop trying to please everyone all
of the time, remember standards.
Not for tradition's sake, but because
it makes sense, if only to educate
Simon Lord, UK
Mr Dyke is very much mistaken if he thinks people don't care about when the New is broadcast. I, for one, will be less than delighted if it is moved from its regular spot at 9 pm. In fact I think I will sign myself Livid from Liverpool!
Crossley Family, England
All other things being equal, and as long as ITV does not move to 10.00pm, I think the change is a good one. Whilst I have digital cable and DTT, the vast majority of UK viewers only have access to 4 or 5 channels and their needs should be more important than the wishes of those of us with EuroNews, CNN etc. However, I think that the BBC could also use the two or three minutes between programmes on BBC One, BBC Two , BBC Choice/3 and BBC Knowledge/4 for headline news, rather than, as at present, promotions for BBC products.
Chris Wigram, U.K.
Here in Australia the late night news is anywhere from 10.30pm-11.30pm. Far too late for most people who have a an early start the next morning. Although I have been away from the UK for a number of years, do the right thing and keep it at 9.00pm.
How quaint. In multi-channel households we have a proper choice of news on the hour, every hour. British Sky Broadcasting news has set the pace in Britain and are now piloting 'interactive' services so headlines are always available. People don't watch 'channels' anymore - they choose programme types.
George Andrew, UK
Sorry, but the only way the Beeb are going to be able to fully compete and deliver quality programmes and provide more channels is by adopting advertising in place of the licence fee
Although we can get news 24/7 nowadays, I still like a nice wrap-up of the news where I can simply sit back and watch. And as a teenager, that time for me is 9 'o' clock.
The Nine o'clock News can only be at nine o'clock, any other time is just not on. The planners and programme makers in an organisation like the BBC should realise we the viewers are free to switch to another channel, and we do flick from channel to channel in order to select our choice of programmes. For people without cable network or satellite dishes, and they do exist, the nine o'clock slot is perfect for the daily intake.
Steven Douglas, Scotland
Apart from the arguments over moving serious programmes to the margins of the schedule, surely moving the 9 O'clock news to 10 pm would present the BBC with the same scheduling problem that ITV faced - i.e. on the basis that an 'adult' film is shown after the 9pm watershed, there would have to be a (up to 45 min ?) break half way through the film. Wasn't this a major factor in the ITV news being moved to 11pm?
I also fear the current slot will be filled with a programme about people re-decorating each other's toilets or some such trash as is currently used in the obsession to fill our screens with 24 hrs of television no matter what the content.
Does moving the news mean the watershed will also be moved?
I predict a knock-on effect on children's bedtimes...
Michael O'Leary, Ireland
I have become attached to the reliable, distinctive sound of the nine o' clock news opening. If they move it, who's going to remind us when its time to go out to the pub?
The existence of so many media outlets each giving different versions of the same news makes reliable bulletins designed to be wide-ranging in appeal all the more essential. By creating a period of three and a half-hours with no mainstream news the BBC will seriously reduce national awareness of world events. Especially at present when it is highly likely that ITN's news bulletin will return to 10pm, it is ludicrous for the BBC to suggest that both main channels should broadcast simultaneously, a move guaranteed to lower news viewing figures (as well as harming Newsnight) to no great end.
Most terrestrial TV stations over in the States
have a sort of tabloid news at 10 or 11pm.
Unfortunately the 9pm slot tends to be filled
by trash. Lets hope that if this new controller
really decides to break with tradition and upset
a lot of loyal viewers who haven't switched to
satellite/cable news, that the slot will be filled
with something worth watching.
Michael McConnell, UK
I think 10pm is a much better slot. It will allow the BBC a similar 2 hour slot to the one ITV uses for programmes such as a Touch of Frost and Morse. The only thing that worries me is whether the BBC can make programmes of that calibre. Whenever it seems to make a show of high quality it is quite often poorly advertised and so left to die a death in the ratings war ... 'Fish', the drama about a lawyer is a perfect example. Great TV, but the BBC didn't tell me about it until I stumbled over it AFTER the 9 o'clock news.
So what does Mr Dyke propose to replace the 9 O'clock news with. More American rubbish, docu/soaps or football. The news, although its becoming more and more biased towards the current Govt, represents one of the few worthwhile programs on the BBC. I certainly will not watch it at 10.00am.
Why are television companies so obsessed with themselves. Does it matter if the news is on at 9pm or 10pm? This is another example of TV executives believing that our lives are ruled by television.
I am a working mother and don't often get the chance to watch the 6pm news. I often make a point, however, of watching the 9pm news as I can watch it in peace. A 10pm bulletin is too late - I'm quite often in bed by this time! Why don't viewers get a say in this matter? We do pay our TV licences after all.
The BBC News at Nine, I believe, is the best news program on the planet and this shift does more to convince me even more that the BBC is moving to a more commercial front. What next? An advert break for News at Six?
Iain Rowan, UK
The arrogance which chief mandarins at the BBC exhibit is simply astounding. Why move the Nine O'clock News? Its been where it has been for so many years because people like it there. There is no justification to moving it. What is the motivation? Increased ratings? The BBC tends to forget its role as a public service broadcaster. Whilst there is a remit for BBC programmes to remain consistently watchable, high quality and attractive, whatever their genre, they shouldn't be treated as moveable feasts which can be shifted at the whim of Mr Dyke. The BBC is there for its viewers, not the other way around.
We are constantly bombarded with news via Ceefax, Internet, THREE 24-hour news channels via cable. If I want the news I can find it 24 hours a day - move it to 2.00am for me, I won't miss it. Get rid of news on BBC1 and make News 24 available to all.
As a digital viewer, this move is irrelevant to me. Currently, I can get updates from Sky, BBC, ITN, CNN etc every 15 minutes.
Moving the news to 10pm does give the BBC more time in the crucial middle evening slot though it will clash with Newsnight.
I am sure that there are many people, like myself who miss 'News at Ten' on ITV. I often miss the '9 O'clock News' because I'm doing other things at that time.
I would personally welcome this change to what will surely become: The '10 O'clock News'.
The arguments for keeping the 9 O'clock slot are mainly based on nostalgia for the good old days of TV news. We would be better off focusing our attention on maintaining and even improving the quality and depth of the reporting (particularly international news).
I think it is crazy for the BBC to even consider moving the nightly news to 10pm.
The BBC has enough problems holding onto sports coverage and being competitive in a fast and shifting marketplace for it to make a serious blunder like ITV did when they moved the news to 11pm and got stung by the Broadcasting Commission.
Pete Morgan-Lucas, Wiltshire, UK
News at 2200 is too late! Some of us like to go to bed a reasonable hour and 2230 (when it'll finish) is too late for me!
Not all of us have access to 24 hour news channels.
Paying for my licence is enough. I have access only
to the terrestrial channels, and news at 9:00 is perfectly timed. 10:00 is far too late - bedtime and all that.
Kevin Parker, UK
I'm 29 and have grown up with news at 9pm. It forms a pivotal role in how I use my evenings. If the news is going to be moved, please don't use it as an excuse to put out more mush - soaps, lame game shows or sick animals/children.
I don't think that it matters when the BBC or ITV news is on. The same news can be seen on all stations being repeated again and again without regard for us the viewers. The internet appears to be the only way to keep abreast of developments in the news.
Great idea! We will be able to finish our dinner in peace not having to rush it for the old 9 o'clock spot!
At the end of the day, does it really matter what time a television programme is shown? Its only TV after all, and not that important surely!
Its what is on in-between the news which is important and there is little doubt that the non-news contents of the BBC is becoming worse.
What is Greg Dyke proposing to show between 9-10pm? Recent BBC1 output has been so poor that I doubt their ability to produce a quality programme 5 days a week to fill that slot.
The news should be there to cater for and inform - and what better opportunity is there than for each news provider to spread their coverage out through the evening? This way, everybody gets the information they want.
I tend not to watch the news on TV any more, it's not in depth enough. BBC News online is the future and I'll keep using that.
Moataz Abou-Eita, Cairo, Egypt
In short, no.
We all live in the real world, and like it or not, are affected by current affairs.
It is therefore important that major news bulletins be presented in the middle of prime time, to encourage people to watch and consequently to be informed about the world they live in, and not be pushed to the margins.
At the end of the day, people will watch what they want to, but by pushing flagship news bulletins until later in the day, fewer people who might have watched, will watch.
The so-called ratings war shouldn't come in to it. As a public service broadcaster, it should matter not a jot.
For a 16 year old viewer without digital television, the Nine O' Clock news is an important part of my evening viewing and keeping track of the latest news. I think the answer is that the ITC should make ITV restore News at Ten or a news at 10.30pm. It is not the BBC's responsibility to take on the job of trying to mop up the mess left behind by the ITV network.
It's bad enough that the BBC organises it's schedules competitively so that people without video recorders have to miss one programme or another on the rare night that the BBC has something worth watching. But the plan to move the news in order to make way for "entertainment" is an insult to us all for which the decision-makers at the BBC should be flogged, live on the 9 o'clock news.
It would be nice to have an independent news service rather than one owned by Tony Blair and his spin doctors. But aside from that I personally feel that 10pm is not an unreasonable time for the main evening news. The important thing though is that the news should be unbiased especially when it's a service provided at public expense. I regret to say that I now get my news from foreign sources, as I no longer feel as though I can trust the BBC to be honest in its reporting.
If ITV cannot have their news at ten, then why shouldn't the BBC have news at ten. Can they not be at the same time.
I watch BBC News over the net. And because our time is one hour ahead it's getting very late to watch the last BBC One News.
Sky News also offers News at ten as a flagship program so there will be no main news at nine o'clock.
Simon Ward, UK
I don't have a problem with the news being moved to 10, unless it affects Newsnight in any way, in which case I would be dead against the move.
I also regret it if, as ITV claims, it strengthens their case for not bringing forward the ITN news.
I believe that the BBC is being forward thinking in making this move. 10.00pm is still peak time and arguably more appropriate for watching the news. I would like to see the 9.00pm slot filled with innovative programming - nature, comedy/drama and documentaries. However, I would not support this move if even more animal docu-soaps are planned as the alternative!
I think News at Ten makes more sense. It means you have time to show an early movie without splitting it around the news, it means more news is available (especially breaking news from the US). Also, I prefer to watch the news rather than video it and watch it later, and moving it to 10pm means I get to watch more often.
DO not move the Nine o'clock news !!! Not everyone was sorry to see ITV's News at Ten go. I never watched News at Ten because for those of us who commute long distances, 10:00 is bed time!
Still, if the BBC go ahead I guess I will just watch Sky News which is on every hour on the hour - very sensible.
Bill Hudson, england
I think the BBC is wrong to move the news to 10. The argument that the 10 o'clock slot was very popular when ITV had it is valid, but only in the context of also having an earlier one at 9. As regards 24 hour news availability on digital etc, if you turn on at any given time there is no guarantee that you will get all the main stories in one go, as you do in a scheduled service.
The BBC should not move the news time slot. A group of people will stop watching the program.
I get up for work at 5:30 in the morning. I also work in the city.
The BBC News is important to me, however at 22:00 I will be going to bed, not watching the news
I would be very sad to see the BBC new change from 9 pm to 10 pm as it would mean that overseas viewers couldn't see it until 11 pm (our time) - well past my bedtime.
No, I don't want the news to change time. It is convenient for me to watch until 9.30 pm and then go to bed with a book for an hour. Especially I leave before 8 am on weekdays.
I always watch the BBC news rather than ITN. I don't watch ITN at all now it has moved. I expect I'll get more information from teletext when it does move. I just think it's inconvenient and too late, especially if I've missed the 6 o'clock bulletin.
As a public broadcast service the BBC has a responsibility to those who either choose not to, or cannot afford Digital/Satellite coverage (we all pay a licence fee for that privilege).
Is anybody currently complaining about BBC News at 9pm? Seems to me another example of "If it ain't broke...don't fix it!"
This is not a matter for politicians. If market research shows that consumers want the news moved back to 10pm then this is a non-issue.
Greg Dyke is very cunning. Where is ITV going to put it's news if they don't win their court ruling. So things will almost certainly go back the way they were 2 years ago, just swapped over.
In the modern World of 24 hour News Channels does it really matter what time the news is on the BBC or ITV?
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