BBC News

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Image:BBC News.png
The current BBC News logo

BBC News and Current Affairs is a major arm of the BBC responsible for the corporation's news-gathering and production of news programmes on BBC television, radio and online. It is the largest news broadcaster in the world and produces almost 100 hours of output daily. BBC News carries out a key objective of the BBC's Royal Charter: to "collect news and information in any part of the world and in any manner that may be thought fit".

BBC News is based at the News Centre at Television Centre (TVC), Wood Lane, London W12 and operates regional centres across the United Kingdom as well as 44 news-gathering bureaux around the world. Of these bureaux, 41 are based overseas. Political coverage is based at the Millbank Studios in Westminster. Due to the non-central location of TVC, however, in 2008 the News Centre is due to move to BBC Radio's headquarters, BBC Broadcasting House at Portland Place in Central London. The News department consists of 3,500 staff of which 2,000 are journalists.[citation needed] The annual budget of BBC News is £350 million.[citation needed] The current director is Helen Boaden.

The organisation faces competition within the United Kingdom, from Sky News as well as ITN, though only the former has a rolling news channel of its own. Internationally, BBC News competes with other news providers regionally. It was revealed in 2005 that the Six O'Clock News was the most popular daily news programme, whilst the corporation's 24 hour rolling news channel, BBC News 24, was the most popular 24 hour news channel in the UK.<ref>About BBC News - Television News - Peter Horrocks, BBC News</ref>

Contents

[edit] History

[edit] The early years

Image:BBC Newsreel.jpg
A BBC produced newsreel.

The British Broadcasting Company broadcast its first radio bulletin on November 14 1922. On July 5 1954, the first true television news bulletin was broadcast. The BBC celebrated 50 years of Television News on July 5 2004.<ref>Fifty years of TV News - Chris Heard, BBC News Online</ref> The BBC television service originally carried news in the form of images with a newsreader providing narration but off-camera, having decided that a newsreader on screen would distract viewers from the stories. Newsreels had been in use for some time, shown at cinemas and other places of public gathering. These were adapted as Television Newsreel programmes, which before the advent of news coverage proper had run on the BBC since 1948.

[edit] 1970s

The first edition of the Nine O'Clock News was broadcast on 14 September 1970. The bulletin had been moved from the earlier time of 8:50pm as a result of the introduction by ITN of the News at Ten. The programme made history later in 1975 with the appointment of Angela Rippon as the first female presenter. Her work outside the news was controversial for the time, appearing on the Morecambe and Wise show singing and dancing.

Afternoon television news during the mid to late 1970s was broadcast from the BBC newsroom itself, rather than a studio. The newsreader would present to camera while sitting on the edge of a desk; behind him staff would be seen working busily at their desks.

News on Radio 4 was to change in the 1970s with changes brought about by new editor Peter Woon. These included the introduction of correspondents into news bulletins where previously only a newsreader would present, as well as the inclusion of content gathered in the preparation process. New programmes were also added to the daily schedule, PM and The World Tonight as part of the plan for the station to become a "wholly speech network".<ref> About BBC News Timeline of events - 1970s, BBC News</ref>

The 23 September 1974 saw the launch of the CEEFAX system, developed to bring news content on television screens using text only. Engineers originally began developing such as system as a form of communicating news for deaf viewers but the system was expanded. The service is now much more diverse, listing details such as weather, flight times and film reviews.

[edit] 1980s

The early eighties saw the introduction of a common theme for the main news bulletins though by the end of the decade, each had established individual styles with differing titles and music, although the weekend and holiday bulletins were similar in style to the Nine O'Clock News.

Newsnight, the news and current affairs programme still running to this day was due to be launched on 23 January 1980, although trade union disagreements meant this was postponed by a week.<ref> About BBC News Timeline of events - 1980s, BBC News</ref>

The first BBC breakfast television programme, Breakfast Time also launched during the 1980s, on 17 January 1983. Presenters including Frank Bough, Selina Scott and Nick Ross helped to wake viewers with a relaxed style of presenting.<ref>On This Day - 1983: BBC wakes up to morning TV BBC On This Day, BBC News</ref>

[edit] 1990s

Image:BBCNews9397.jpg
The BBC News television ident used from April 1993 to October 1997.

Throughout this period saw an increase in services offered by the department, as in 1995 BBC World Service Television became BBC World and BBC Prime and meant content for a 24 hour international news and current affairs channel was required. This was followed in 1997 with the launch of BBC News 24 in the UK, promoted as the Now O'Clock News. Rather than set bulletins, ongoing reports and coverage was needed to keep both the channels functioning and meant a greater emphasis in terms of budgeting was necessary.

On-screen, changes were made to the appearance of bulletins during the nineties, making use of fairly new technologies such as in 1993 when a new set for bulletins on BBC One made use of Silicon Graphics' systems to create a virtual set which appeared to be much larger than it was physically. Bulletins were no longer based in separate sets but instead used one, with differing colours on panels behind newsreaders and changes to the orchestral theme consistent with BBC News at the time. A computer generated glass sculpture of the BBC coat of arms was the centrepiece of the titles for bulletins until a large rebrand of the corporation's news output in 1999.

Image:BBCnews1999.jpg
The BBC News television ident used from May 1999 until February 2004

On Monday, May 10th 1999 the biggest relaunch occurred, with BBC One bulletins, BBC World and BBC News 24 adopting a common style. Most significantly BBC regional news programmes adopted the new corporate image for the first time, giving a common style across local, national and international BBC television news. This included the Newyddion programme for Welsh language channel S4C, produced by BBC News Wales. It also caused changes to regional news. Regional stories were incorporated into the six o'clock news headlines. The English regions lost some time, however, as these regions now rejoined London for a national round-up at 6.55. Over the next few years the regional news programmes began adopting a unified look in line with the national news. Regional headlines were also added to the one o'clock news, and the main evening news, when it moved from nine o'clock to ten o'clock.

[edit] 2000s

Image:BBC News 2006.jpg
The current style of titles for BBC television news was introduced in February 2004 and updated in May 2006.

Television news bulletins on BBC One saw a relaunch on Monday, January 20 2003, coinciding with a change in presenters of the evening bulletins. The new set was smaller then previous and square in design, initially using a projected image of a fictional newsroom as a background; the newsroom shown did not actually exist. The titles introduced in 1999 remained until February 16 2004, when they were replaced by a new set based on the style of those used on BBC News 24, introduced in December of the previous year. News 24 tweaked their titles in turn to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of BBC television news in July 2004.

Changes in the way television news bulletins were ran came into effect in 2005, when on November 8 it was announced with the replacement of two single editors for the One and Six O'Clock News with one daytime editor responsible for both. At the same time, the position of Controller of BBC News 24 was created as a replacement for the role of editor, and was awarded to Kevin Bakhurst, then editor of the Ten O'Clock News on December 16. Amanda Farnsworth became daytime bulletin editor and Craig Oliver was later named editor of the Ten O'Clock News. A further step taken by Head of Television News, Peter Horrocks, was the beginning of simulcasting the main news bulletins on BBC One with News 24. He explained that this was in order to 'beef up' BBC News operations by pooling operations rather than beginning two almost identical bulletins at the main times.

The latest set design and style was introduced for BBC One bulletins on Tuesday May 2 2006, with similar style titles to previous though in a new glassier finish. The relaunch saw the move of Breakfast into the same studio as the main bulletins for the first time since 1997 with the set markedly larger than before to accommodate this. Large Barco screens provide a backdrop for the set; a view of the London skyline for main news bulletins which becomes progressively darker depending on the time of day, while Breakfast began with images of cirrus clouds against a blue sky but later changed this following criticisms from viewers that it appeared 'too cold' for the time of day. <ref>Breakfast's new look - BBC Breakfast, BBC News Online</ref> The studio now bears similarities to changes made at ITV News in 2004 though these use CSO graphics rather than the actual screens at BBC News.

[edit] News output

[edit] Television

Image:B00029RDXG 02 LZZZZZZZ.jpg
50 years of BBC television news was celebrated in 2004 with the release of a commemorative DVD.

The Television News section of BBC News is responsible for the main news bulletins on BBC One and BBC Two, news output on BBC Three and BBC Four and the news channels BBC News 24 and BBC Parliament. The BBC's international news and current affairs channel BBC World also receives 22 hours of programming each day from the department.

BBC News content is also output onto the BBC's digital interactive television services under the BBCi brand, and the legacy analogue CEEFAX teletext system.

The distinctive music on all BBC television news programmes was introduced in 1999 and composed by David Lowe. It was part of the extensive rebranding which commenced in 1999. The general theme was used not only on bulletins on BBC One but News 24, BBC World and local news programmes in the BBC's Nations and Regions. Lowe was also responsible for the music on Radio One's "Newsbeat". In 2003, following another relaunch of the corporation's output, all title music and graphics were altered with Lowe remaining as composer.

The controller of television news is Peter Horrocks; he succeeded Roger Mosey, who moved to the equivalent position at BBC Sport.

[edit] Radio

BBC Radio News produces bulletins for the BBC's national radio stations and provides content for local BBC radio stations via the General News Service (GNS). BBC News does not produce the BBC's regional news bulletins, which are produced by the BBC nations and regions. The BBC World Service broadcasts to some 150 million people in 40 languages across the globe.[citation needed]

[edit] Online

Main article: BBC News Online

BBC News Online is the BBC's news website. Launched in November 1997, it is one of the most popular news websites in the UK, and worldwide, with around 15 million visitors every month.[citation needed] The website contains exhaustive international news coverage as well as entertainment, sport, science, and political news. Many reports are accompanied by audio and video from the BBC's television and radio news services. Certain BBC current affairs programmes such as Newsnight and Question Time are available to view on the site after they have been broadcast. The same is available with BBC News television bulletins and radio programmes. Certain radio broadcasts are available for download as podcasts as part of the BBC's download trial.

[edit] Opinions of BBC News

[edit] Political and commercial independence

The BBC is required by its charter to be free from both political and commercial influence and answers only to its viewers and listeners. Nevertheless, the BBC's political objectivity is sometimes questioned. For instance, The Daily Telegraph (3 Aug 2005) carried a letter from the KGB defector Oleg Gordievsky, referring to it as "The Red Service". Books have been written on the subject, although rarely from people writing neutrally themselves, including anti-BBC works like Truth Betrayed by W J West and The Truth Twisters by Richard Deacon.

The BBC is regularly accused by the government of the day of bias in favour of the opposition and, by the opposition, of bias in favour of the government. Similarly, during times of war, the BBC is often accused by the UK government, or by strong supporters of British military campaigns, of being overly sympathetic to the view of the enemy. This gave rise, in 1991 during the first Gulf War, to the satirical name "Baghdad Broadcasting Corporation". Conversely, some of those who style themselves anti-establishment in the United Kingdom or who oppose foreign wars have accused the BBC of pro-establishment bias or of refusing to give an outlet to "anti-war" voices. Some have argued that a current of anti-BBC thinking exists in many parts of the political spectrum and that, since the BBC's theoretical impartiality<ref>The BBC's Editorial Values www.bbc.co.uk/ Retrieved 25 November 2006.</ref> means they will broadcast many views and opinions, people will see the bias they wish to see. This argument is buttressed by the fact that the BBC is frequently accused of bias by all opinions in a dispute.

Prominent BBC appointments are constantly assessed by the British media and political establishment for signs of political bias. The appointment of Greg Dyke as Director-General was highlighted by press sources because Dyke was a Labour Party member and former activist, as well as a friend of Tony Blair. The BBC's current Political Editor, Nick Robinson, was some years ago a chairman of the Young Conservatives and has, as a result, attracted informal criticism from the current Labour government, but his predecessor Andrew Marr faced similar claims from the right because he was editor of the liberal leaning Independent newspaper before his own appointment in 2000.

Despite these criticisms, many still regard the BBC as a trusted and politically neutral news source across the globe,[Quote from source requested on talk page to verify interpretation of source] and in some areas the BBC World Service radio is the only available free media.

[edit] Hutton Inquiry

Main article: Hutton Inquiry

BBC News was at the centre of one the largest political controversies in recent years. Three BBC News reports (Andrew Gilligan's on Today, Gavin Hewitt's on The Ten O'Clock News and another on Newsnight) quoted an anonymous source that stated the British government (particularly the Prime Minister's office) had embellished the September Dossier with misleading exaggerations of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities. The government denounced the reports and accused the corporation of poor journalism.

In subsequent weeks the corporation stood by the report, saying that it had a reliable source. Following intense media speculation, David Kelly was named in the press as the source for Gilligan's story on 9 July 2003. Kelly was found dead, by suicide, in a field close to his home early on 18 July. An inquiry led by Lord Hutton was announced by the British government the following day to investigate the circumstances leading to Kelly's death, concluding that "Dr. Kelly took his own life."

In his report on January 28 2004, Lord Hutton concluded that Gilligan's original accusation was "unfounded" and the BBC's editorial and management processes were "defective". In particular, it specifically criticised the chain of management that caused the BBC to defend its story. The BBC Director of News, Richard Sambrook, the report said, had accepted Gilligan's word that his story was accurate in spite of his notes being incomplete. Davies had then told the BBC Board of Governors that he was happy with the story and told the Prime Minister that a satisfactory internal inquiry had taken place. The Board of Governors, under BBC Chairman Gavyn Davies' guidance, accepted that further investigation of the Government's complaints were unnecessary.

Because of the criticism in the Hutton report, Davies resigned on the day of publication. BBC News faced an important test, reporting on itself with the publication of the report, but by common consent managed this both independently and impartially. [citation needed] Davies' resignation was followed by the resignation of Director General Greg Dyke the following day, and the resignation of Gilligan on January 30. While doubtless a traumatic experience for the corporation, an ICM poll in April 2003 indicated that it had sustained its position as the best and most trusted provider of news.[citation needed]

[edit] Anti-American bias

In October 2006 Chief Radio Correspondent for BBC News since 2001<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> and Washington correspondent Justin Webb said that the BBC is so biased against America that deputy director general Mark Byford had secretly agreed to help him to "correct" it in his reports, and that the BBC treated America with scorn and derision and gave it "no moral weight".<ref>Walters, Simon. "We are biased, admit the stars of BBC News", Mail on Sunday, 2006-10-21. Retrieved on 2006-11-02.</ref>

[edit] Israeli-Palestinian conflict

The BBC has been accused of anti-Israel bias and even antisemitism. Douglas Davis, the London correspondent of The Jerusalem Post, writes that the BBC's coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict is "a relentless, one-dimensional portrayal of Israel as a demonic, criminal state and Israelis as brutal oppressors [which] bears all the hallmarks of a concerted campaign of vilification that, wittingly or not, has the effect of delegitimizing the Jewish state and pumping oxygen into a dark old European hatred that dared not speak its name for the past half-century."<ref name=Davis130>Davis, Douglas. "Hatred in the air: the BBC, Israel and Antisemitism" in Iganski, Paul & Kosmin, Barry. (eds) A New Anti-Semitism? Debating Judeophobia in 21st century Britain. Profile Books, 2003, p. 130.</ref> In 2006, an independent inquiry set up to assess the impartiality of BBC news and current affairs coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict<ref>Impartiality Review: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict- BBC Governors</ref> determined that there was no systematic bias, but that coverage sometimes gives an incomplete picture, which may have misled viewers and affected their understanding of the situation. The report listed examples of how the BBC could be said to be biased in favour of Israel.<ref>"BBC 'must improve Mid-East view'", BBC News.</ref><ref>"BBC's coverage of Israeli-Palestinian conflict 'misleading'", The Guardian.</ref>

Martin Walker writes in The Times that "[t]his produced mocking guffaws in my own newsroom, where some of the BBC’s greatest hits — or perhaps misses — remain fresh in the memory. There was the hagiographic send-off for Yassir Arafat by a BBC reporter with tears in her eyes and that half-hour profile of Arafat in 2002 which called him a 'hero' and 'an icon' and concluded that the corrupt old brute was 'the stuff of legends.'"<ref name=Walker> The BBC pro-Israeli? Is the Pope Jewish?, The Times, May 11, 2006.</ref> Walker cites the case of Fayad Abu Shamala, the BBC Arabic Service correspondent, who told a Hamas rally on May 6, 2001, that journalists in Gaza were "waging the campaign shoulder to shoulder together with the Palestinian people."<ref name=Walker/> He also cites the visit to London of Sheikh Abdur-Rahman al-Sudais, the imam of Mecca, during which the BBC described him, in a report Walker calls "extraordinarily naive," as a widely respected religious figure who works for "community cohesion"; this was despite the imam's statement on February 1, 2004, that "the Jews of yesterday are the evil fathers of the Jews of today, who are evil offspring, infidels ... calf-worshippers, prophet-murderers, prophecy-deniers ... the scum of the human race whom Allah cursed and turned into apes and pigs ..."<ref name=Walker/>

Walker argues that the independent inquiry was flawed for two reasons. First, because the time period over which it was conducted (August 2005 to January 2006) surrounded the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and Ariel Sharon's stroke, which produced more positive coverage than usual. Furthermore, he wrote, the inquiry only looked at the BBC's domestic coverage, and excluded output on the BBC World Service and BBC World.<ref name=Walker/>

[edit] The view of foreign governments

BBC News reporters and broadcasts are now and have in the past been banned in several countries primarily for reporting which has been unfavourable to the ruling government. For example, correspondents were banned by the former apartheid régime of South Africa. The BBC is currently banned in Zimbabwe, whose government has proscribed it as a terrorist organisation.<ref>BBC 'a terrorist organisation' - afrol.com</ref> Other cases have included Uzbekistan,<ref>Uzbeks banish BBC after massacre reports - Monica Whitlock, BBC News</ref> China,<ref>Censor blocks sensitive issues in BBC series - asiamedia.ucla.edu</ref> and Pakistan.<ref>BBC Urdo taken off Pakistan radio - BBC News</ref>

[edit] See also

[edit] References

<references />

[edit] External links

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