MEDIA: Can Five News live without Kaplinsky?

There are two distinct phases in Five News' short history. First there was the rather lacklustre 'Pre-Natasha' per­iod of humdrum viewing figures and a low media profile.

Natasha Kaplinsky
Natasha Kaplinsky

Since February 2008, however, it has been a different story for the Sky News-owned programme.

Five News' flagship 5pm show has seen an audience increase of about 50 per cent since new host Natasha Kaplinsky joined earlier this year. The increase in viewers is even more pronounced in the important ABC1 band of wealthy, influential consu­mers, as well as those aged 16 to 34. The average audience is now just above 750,000 and peaks at a million on most days.

However, with Kaplinsky headed for maternity leave soon, some PROs wonder whether Five News' current profile will be compromised.

Editor David Kermode hopes not, and promises that stand-in presenters Matt ­Barbet and Isla Traquair will still attract viewers.

‘Early signs are good, from when Natasha has been on holiday,' he says. ‘It is not just the host, it is the product.'

Natasha KaplinskyThe show has garnered mixed reviews from PROs, alt­hough most certainly consider it a worthwhile target for clients.

‘Five News is definitely on our wish list for broadcast coverage, especially for some of the big consumer brands we represent - and when we want to target a younger audience in particular,' says Richard Griffiths, head of strategic med­ia at Ketchum.

Griffiths adds, however, that Kaplinsky must take a lot of the credit for the programme's recent turnaround. ‘Five News is clearly benefiting from the "Natasha effect".'

AMC Network MD Xavier Adam agrees that Five News is a decent target for consumer PROs, but believes it would be a hard sell for global clients who see the BBC as the gold standard.

‘I am not sure that client bosses in the US or elsewhere in Europe would know the value of Five News - it is smaller, and it is not the BBC Six O'Clock News,' he says.

He adds, however, that the show's content is better than he ever expected. ‘The news programming is pretty good. I think everyone was expecting it to be a lot lighter, but it is perfec­tly legitimate. Being smaller, it can do more interesting things, and quickly too - there isn't the long approval process of the BBC.'

For now, Kaplinsky continues to bring in the punters, and the programme has seen such rare exclusives as an interview with Robert Mug­abe and a one-off called ‘Gordon Brown Meets the Ten-Year-Olds'.

Kermode says the rest of the year will see in-depth coverage of animal and food-
related issues. ‘We pride ourselves on our investigations,' he says.

Frequency 12.30pm, 5pm and 7pm daily

Audience 750,000 - 1 million

David Kermode
020 7800 2705

Head of production
Amanda Haslam
020 7800 2711

A MINUTE WITH... David Kermode, editor, Five News

Why do you think viewing figures are up this year?
Is it all thanks to Natasha Kaplinsky?
It is a combination of factors. It is the profile that Natasha brings, which is massively helpful. Also, the editorial remit is just different from that of our competitors. It is bolder and more creative.

David KermodeAre you open to PR pitches?
We made a big thing about adopting a deliberately more positive agenda, but we do have serious news as well. Within the mix we like to be more upbeat and have inspiring stories.

If it is a good idea and a great story, we are open to it. But it is always tricky - if it looks like a PR plug, then journalists are always wary.

What are your PR pet peeves?
One of my biggest bugbears is when an email arrives in my inbox that is obviously just PR crap - it gets immediately deleted. One sure-fire way of not getting my attention is a bog-standard email. What irritates me about PR is the blanket nature of it.

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