Media - Rolling News Channels: Keeping a constant eye on the news - As ITN gears up for the launch of its 24-hour news channel this summer, research reveals that more people are now choosing to watch rolling news channels

To date, news-only channels have had a chequered history. The late-1990s saw mergers and closures with European Business News vanishing from our screens and CNBC surviving after a merger. At the time, some media commentators argued that the problem was there were too many channels for not enough viewers.

To date, news-only channels have had a chequered history. The

late-1990s saw mergers and closures with European Business News

vanishing from our screens and CNBC surviving after a merger. At the

time, some media commentators argued that the problem was there were too

many channels for not enough viewers.



Now, however, ITN has announced it plans to launch a new 24-hour news

channel at the end of the summer.



The channel will roll out on NTL and Telewest cable networks, Sky

Digital and ONdigital. At the same time, its UK rivals in the BBC and

Sky News are making changes to their news-only services to embrace the

competition and the interactive digital world.



The big question is: are there enough viewers out there? The ITC

recently published its cable homes viewing figures for the first quarter

of 2000 and revealed that viewing to news-only channels is on the

increase. Of the 3.3 million homes in the UK that can get cable

television, 2.5 million have taken news channels. The BBC’s News 24 does

the best in terms of audience share, while Sky News and CNN have lost

some ground.



For the PR industry, however, these channels represent a complicated

equation. The stations themselves are always keen to get top level

spokespeople on air, but for busy senior executives an hour in front of

a camera that 2,000 people in Staines are going to see is an hour

wasted.



’We’ve been working with Sky News for some time now and we think their

on-line ambitions are going to be very important,’ says Richard

Pemberton, head of broadcast at Citigate Dewe Rogerson.



’The opportunity to add in-depth text to the quote our senior guys are

giving to the ITN Nightly News is great. With the BBC, we’d still prefer

to get onto the Nine O’Clock News, but it is true that if your story

gets on to the regional news programmes and News 24 at the start of the

day, you’ve got a far better chance of hitting the Nine O’Clock News,’

says Pemberton.



’There are some obvious differences between certain channels,’ says

Stuart Maister, senior vice-president at broadcast specialist

Medialink.



’CNN is looking internationally and CNBC wants business stories. The

domestic channels are less distinct. Often, there’s more difference

between individual programmes within a channel, with different demands

from stories and electronic press kits than different channels because

of their different audiences.’





BBC NEWS 24



Rachel Atwell



Position: Head of news



Available audience: 6.1 million (inc overnights on BBC1)



’News 24 has been mired in controversy since it launched and when Greg

Dyke took over at the BBC there was some speculation about our

future.



We’re shaking up our weekend schedule and this week we changed our

breakfast show too - we’re now going for a headline service.



’We’re doing rolling news at lunchtime and cutting back on the length of

the non-news stuff. Obviously, the problem with the weekends and late

nights is that there’s not much happening, especially domestically.

That’s why we co-operate on our overnights with BBC World. Thus, the

night time service is stronger in foreign news while day time is

entirely domestic.’





ITN NEWS CHANNEL



Michael Jermey



Position: Managing director



Available audience: five - six million homes



’We launch at the end of the summer because it became possible to launch

on digital TV. Digital convergence means we can provide a service on

satellite, cable and terrestrial digital TV, radio, the web and, when

video mobile phones come out we’ll be on Orange’s version.



’It will be an all-news channel. People in the UK think they’re already

getting that, but if you watch the BBC and Sky you’ll see they have a

lot of feature material and longer programmes. We’re dividing our hour

up into quarter hour segments so that if you’re very busy you can get a

news fix in 15 minutes. If you watch for a full hour, you’ll get every

story of the day.’





SKY NEWS



Nick Pollard



Position: Head of Sky News



Available audience: six million homes (3.4 million of which have Sky

News Active)



’It’s a tough market and the entrance of ITN is going to make it

tougher.



Last week we launched Sky News Active to stay one step ahead. It’s the

first digital interactive service in the world.



’Four individual 24-hour channels - news, business news, weather and

show business - streaming in parallel with our main output on Sky

digital satellite. There are also text stories and a ticker tape across

the bottom of the screen which gives breaking headlines. It’s easy to

use and gives us huge possibilities.



’It’s not going to be a service for everyone. Some people prefer to have

us set their news agenda, but I think it’s going to be popular.’





CNN INTERNATIONAL



Tony Maddox



Position: Vice-president EMEA



Available audience: six million UK homes



’CNN has a different outlook to our domestic rivals. We may be based in

London and broadcast out of London, and the UK is a very important

market, but we’re in 240-odd countries. In markets like Germany we have

28 million homes compared to six million in the UK. If people are

pitching stories to us then they need to bear that in mind.



’Business stories are good, because there isn’t a big company in the

world which does not have an international dimension. We’re becoming

successful at reaching the 30- to 50-year-old audience of travelling

business people who like to have a channel they can know and trust

wherever they go.’



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.