The BBC is launching a new TV news channel that is set to replace both the current BBC News channel (which is available in the UK), and the global world news channel (which is available internationally), turning the two into a single 24/7 channel.
As part of these changes, the teams behind the two existing channels will be unified, offering greater amounts of shared content, but maintaining the ability to offer separate broadcasts.
The new channel is set to launch next year, in April 2023.
It will presumably remain on Freeview, Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media, as well as online via BBC iPlayer (although BBC News HD has been removed from Freeview recently, where only the SD version remains).
The plans for the unified BBC News channel were originally announced earlier this year, but today – the BBC revealed further details about the upcoming changes.
The new channel, which will be called BBC News, will be broadcast around the world, providing licence fee payers in the UK with ad-free access to a huge range and breadth of international coverage which hasn’t previously been available to them.
The rebooted BBC News will feature new flagship programmes built around high-profile journalists, and programmes commissioned for multiple platforms.
BBC News Digital Director Naja Nielsen said: “Our aim is to create the best live and breaking video news service in the world – on our web pages, our apps, on BBC iPlayer and on our new TV news channel.
“We are investing in new capability to cover breaking news stories, and our news channel and digital teams will work hand in hand to bring the best journalism to audiences both at home and abroad”.
One Channel – Separate News Feeds
Even though a unified team will be responsible for the new BBC News, with the channel operating under a single brand – UK viewers will receive specific content at certain times of the day, and during certain news stories (while international viewers will be seeing something else at those times).
In what sounds like a somewhat confusing method, a new live and breaking news team will provide universally available coverage of global breaking news, and – when relevant – a domestic-only stream for UK-specific news events, “ensuring that audiences get the best live video coverage of the news that matters most to them”.
This is somewhat similar to CNN International, which airs both international/local content and content from its US home base, as events dictate.
BBC News will be broadcast from London during UK daytime hours, and then Singapore and Washington DC.
While it’s safe to assume jobs will be lost once the two channels combine into one, the BBC will reportedly invest in new on and off-screen journalism roles in Washington DC.
The BBC will also “invest in visualising programmes based on popular radio shows, with new technology and studio capacity to do so” – which basically means airing a radio programme on a TV channel, as many other radio stations / TV channels currently do.
This will begin with the BBC Radio 5 Live Nicky Campbell programme, which will be broadcast on BBC Two on weekday mornings as well as on the UK stream of the new channel.
As for sports, programming will be a mixture of the UK-facing Sportsday and new global-facing sports programmes.
BBC Studios will continue to have responsibility for securing commercial revenues from the channel outside the UK, primarily by selling adverts – but the channel will remain ad-free in the UK.
According to the BBC, full details of the schedule will be released in the future, but it’s my understanding that advert breaks on the international “version” of the channel will be replaced by bespoke BBC News content for viewers in the UK.
For now, the plans that were announced today are still subject to consultation with staff and trade unions.
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