BBC News 24

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BBC News 24
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Launched: 9th November 1997
Audience Share (Aug 2004[1] ( 0.6%
Owned By:BBC
Terrestrial Analogue: not available
Terrestrial Digital:Freeview Channel 40
Satellite:Sky Digital Channel 507
Cable:NTL Channel 125

Telewest Digital Channel 610

Telewest Analogue Channel 10 (and default channel)

BBC News 24 is BBC News' 24-hour news television channel in the UK, its international counterpart being BBC World. It first broadcast on November 9 1997 at 17:30 and at first only cable television subscribers could view the broadcast. In 1999, with the advent of digital television in the UK, satellite viewers were able to view the service. It is now also broadcast on digital terrestrial, as part of the Freeview package, and online, if a UK internet service provider is partnered with the BBC.



The BBC were initially criticised for the cost of running BBC News 24 channel, with so few viewers. Their response was to promote the channel through their ordinary channels BBC1 and BBC2, using terrestrial signals, and this is seen by some as influential (to a certain limited extent) in promoting the take-up of digital television. Examples of News 24 network broadcasts include the September 11th attacks and the capture of Saddam Hussein.

In September 1999 the European Commission ruled against a complaint by Sky News which argued that the publicly funded News 24 was unfair and illegal under EU law. The EC ruled that the licence fee should be considered state aid but that such aid was justified due to the public service remit of the BBC and that it did not exceed actual costs.

The BBC's 2004 annual report ( claims that News 24 outperformed Sky News in both weekly and monthly reach in multichannel homes for the January 2004 period, and for the first time in two years moved ahead of Sky News in being perceived as the channel best for news.

News 24 broadcasts from the News Centre in BBC Television Centre, West London.


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The initial format of the channel was criticised as being less authoritative than other BBC News output, this being blamed on the radical colour and design of the set and the shirtsleeved male presenters. As a result the channel was relaunced on October 25 1999 with a new set, music and titles which were based on the recently relaunched network news. This similarity was intended to increase the credibility of the channel and aid cross channel promotion.

In December 2002 the Lambert Report, an independent review commissioned by the government, criticised the BBC Governors for failing to ensure that News 24 had a distinct identity from the commercial rolling-news services provided by the ITV News Channel and Sky News. As a result the Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell announced new conditions on the "approvals" under which the BBC operates News 24.

In December 2003, the channel was relaunched, with cosmetic changes to the look and feel of the channel being the main obvious change. A new set was launched, replacing the "rhubarb and custard" beige and red design introduced in 1999. New graphics were also introduced, which are more attention grabbing, the channel signature theme tune was refreshed and a new 'live-rendered' title sequence designed. In addition, criticism was made that "no one notices breaking news" on the channel, so together with the new attention seeking graphics, a breaking news "sting" was developed, which is designed to grab people's attention whenever breaking news is flashed upon the screen. The relaunch also takes into account the criticisms in the Lambert Report, introducing more analysis and features into the schedules of the channel which makes it more distinctive from its commercial rivals.


Since the October 1999 relaunch an important element of News 24 presentation has been the countdown to the top of every hour. The full version is 90 seconds though approximately 30 seconds is normally shown. The original countdown featured ivory numbers and globe against a deep red background, reflecting the wider rebranding of the channel. The music was composed by David Lowe, responsible for the network news music.

In 2003 this countdown was revised to show life around the UK; stockbrokers, playgrounds, commuters, hospitals and school lessons were all shown. With the December 2003 relaunch of the channel the music of the countdown was adapted for the first time and the footage was revised to include markets, fairgrounds and the newsroom and news centre at Television Centre.

On March 28 2005 the countdown was radically altered. The music was again revised but the biggest change came in the footage used — it now reflects the methods and nature of newsgathering and strong emphasis is placed on the BBC logo itself. Satellites are shown transmitting and receiving a red "data stream". Footage shows reporters and cameramen operating in the UK, America, China, Africa, Iraq and the areas affected by the Asian Tsunami.

See also

External links

pl:BBC News 24



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