Saturday, November 07, 2015

The Ten O'clock slot for UK TV news and Red 360

There seems to be a belief in some places ( many politicians for example being fixated on the political coverage) that the major TV  news  bulletins on the UK's most popular television channels should not be in head-to-head competition as they are currently are on most weekdays at 10 pm.

I'm not sure that the 'choice' (generally considered a good thing these days) is bad for the viewers but I suppose there is a danger of domination by one of the participants in what is effectively a mass news 'duopoly' with ITV 1 versus BBC 1.

For me the default choice of provider is the BBC 1 bulletin with the gravitas it brings for me often followed by a burst of BBC 2's Newsnight (less of a must watch since the departure of Jeremey Paxman though) .

In the last week or so I have seen the 'new' ITV version of NaT (News at Ten) and I was initially shocked and then mildly fascinated with what feels to me like a very different approach with a big name Tom Bradby heading up most of the bulletins.
ITV News comes for Grays Inn Road

I myself find it far too personal and it feels a little patronising but I'm perhaps behind the curve, I'm not sure live News feeds add to our perspective or knowledge, I don't find for example  that a reporter speaking outside No 10 Downing St. offers any better insights than a reporter speaking in the studio.

I also sometimes have to remind myself of a pearl of wisdom from a former  Reuters Asia colleague John Jirik who maintained (semi-seriously I think)  that TV news is a branch of the entertainment industry.

Having asked an ITV 'insider' it seems initial viewer take-up (currently) is good and it is true that a poor replica of the BBCs style is not necessarily a real choice. I though fear that any increase in audience for ITV is temporary and more attributable to 'audience inheritance'  and scheduling effects identified by academics such as Postman.

There is also a heightening of competition with swipes from both sides (here's an example of  commentary on the attitudes)

 A structural view on the changing nature of the 'News business'  can also be used to point to an inevitable deterioration/concentration of influence which has injurious consequences to the active citizen and ITV and the BBC are now more in commissioning publisher model than a horizontally integrated business .

It's well over 25 years since I worked on ITV's main news bulletin and the change in the way we engage with news and TV since then has been fairly spectacular, it'll be interesting to see how this change beds in (or if it even matters to what remains of the mass audience).

Red 360

It's not just man-made that's red here's a pepper I grew
A home grown red
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