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Last Updated: Friday, 9 June 2006, 15:45 GMT 16:45 UK
Only a game...?
We saw the coach leaving the hotel. A helicopter tracked its journey to the airport. We saw players boarding the plane.

We learned they would be eating scones and clotted cream during their short journey to Germany. We watched the plane take off and followed it until we could no longer see it through the cloud.

BBC News 24's coverage of the England's team's departure for the World Cup lasted - appropriately - for 90 minutes. Many viewers were not impressed.

England team board plane
People getting on a plane
"You would think they are setting off on the first manned mission to Mars! C'mon BBC - it's News 24 not Snooze 24," wrote Mark Thomas.

"Is this news?" asked Joe Ryan. "It's not as if we expected them to stay at home or to catch a bus. What next? England have a cup of tea; England go to bed; England have breakfast? The possibilities are endless."

And that was before Wayne Rooney returned to the UK for a scan on his injured foot, covered in detail not just by News 24 but by all the BBC One bulletins. The Six O'Clock News commissioned comic book style graphics to tell the story.

Perspective

Even ardent football fans like David Rogers had had enough by now.

"To have a camera crew stationed at the hotel in Baden-Baden, the training ground, the airports in Germany AND Manchester, and the hospital in Manchester is clearly ridiculous!" he said.

"I know the issue is of national importance, but come on, let's get things into perspective."

Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney, as seen by the Six O'Clock News
"If I wanted to watch Casualty I would put it on," commented Louisa Coates. "There must be so much news you could do instead."

Tim McCoy, one of the editors at News 24, responded: "One of the dangers in a big sporting event like the World Cup, which attracts huge interest, is that either you love it or you hate it.

"And it's undoubtedly true that if you're not into the World Cup in a big way, you might feel there's too much coverage.

"But we often get accused of being doom merchants and providing bad news all the time. I think the take-off for Germany was great fun and a bit of a spectacle.

Advantages

"All the people on the plane, the pilots and crew, were up for it and were having a great time as well and we wanted to reflect that sense of fun.

"But we have a lot of space on News 24 to cover other stories seriously as well. We are not going to stint on covering other big news during the World Cup. One of our advantages is we've got time to tell all the stories."

Tim McCoy recognised that there were times when News 24 might show similar live pictures to other channels but he felt the BBC had an advantage.

We're absolutely committed to covering all the news as normal
Tim McCoy
Senior Editor, News 24
"We can use the talents of people from BBC Sport like Gary Lineker and Mark Lawrenson - we have better analysis, different correspondents with a different perspective we can bring into our coverage, so we hope we're offering something different."

And he said the channel was aware that UK viewers from outside England could easily be turned off by too much coverage of Beckham, Rooney and their team-mates.

"We know there are people who are interested in the World Cup, even if they're not supporting England, and we hope our big coverage in the evening will provide all the news and not just about England."

He added: "We know there's a big appetite out there - after all, 20 million people watched the last England World Cup game - and we want to meet that for our viewers. But we're absolutely committed to covering all the news as normal."





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