Friday, December 19, 2014

Looking ahead

Plenty for BBC News boss James Harding to mull over, after a 'future of news' conference at City University yesterday. Mr Harding was in bullish mood, but others had doubts.

Lord Birt said the BBC tv was not making enough space for weighty examinations of the big issues facing the UK - like wot he used to have. “I am not going to make James’s life a misery by going through his team of players,” he said, proceeding to make his life a misery by a side swipe and gentle threats indicating some people think the same as Birt.  “If you take current affairs as a whole it doesn’t have sufficient presence at the moment. I am not alone in thinking that.”

David Lloyd, who used to edit the Money Programme for Lord Birt, agreed, saying the Money Programme should come back. The bloke from Vice said BBC current affairs was "beige"; new current affairs boss Fiona Campbell said she could do cheaper shows for BBC1 and BBC2, as she had done on BBC3.

Ian Katz, editor of Newsnight said "The truth is that almost certainly BBC News has to do less. The output is vast.”  And it doesn't help when you blow your budget before the end of the financial year. James is right behind Katz - "Once again, if you miss Newsnight, you’re out of it."  Sadly, more and more people are out of it, preferring The Agenda, on ITV, or This Week on BBC1. Some recent editions have been returning overnights closer to 400k, so the Key Performance Indicator of cost per viewer needs a brilliant first quarter of 2015, with extra competition coming from an extended regional news bulletin on BBC1.

Accompanying James' speech comes a piece of work by researchers Mediatique. Here's a graph I can understand.

And here's one that's a little harder.

They note that the BBC is losing share in the online news market as competition increases, but that the likely future scenario for online news – Evolution – "is expected to render the BBC’s role as impartial and trusted provider of news of increasing rather than decreasing importance". So that's all good, then.

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