The BBC is to combine its international and UK news channels, although both channels will be able to run separate programmes at times.
The new single news channel will be called ‘BBC News’ and will build on two years of programme sharing brought about by the pandemic.
Not all programmes will be simulcast internationally, according to BBC Director-General Tim Davie. He told staff “we know there are stories which are key to UK audiences, but less relevant elsewhere, and vice versa – so not everything will be simulcast. However, there will be much more shared output and a fully co-ordinated approach.”
How will it work?
At the moment, BBC World News has the ability to show different programmes in different parts of the world. So for example, in the evenings in North America, BBC World News has a different schedule than in the rest of the world.
This principle would be extended to cover the rest of the world and the UK. A core schedule of news will go out to all audiences.
At present, both channels simulcast at 10:00 UK time for an hour, and additionally at 19:00 and 21:00. From 23:00-06:00, both channels share news bulletins, with variations during the second half-hour.
Last year, the previous separation that divided BBC News and World News into licence-fee and non-licence fee funded services was removed. BBC World News does still carry adverts, and it’s expected BBC News will continue to show adverts outside of the UK. This would be in the same manner as the international version of the BBC News website.
Other BBC TV and radio services operating overseas face a move to online-only distribution.
Speaking of the cuts, Davie said: “But UK licence fee funding for the World Service, which has been around £254m in recent years, is now running at over £290m including World News – a level that is unsustainable following the licence fee settlement. … We can only expect UK licence fee payers to fund so much.”
Radio and TV output coming together
With a nod to how GB News and TalkTV are able to produce content that’s broadcast on the radio as well as on TV, Davie added that the BBC wants to create more content that can be simulcast across platforms. This would, for example, pave the way for BBC Radio 5 Live to carry items from BBC News TV and vice-versa.
The BBC’s proposals to change its services will need to be scrutinised by Ofcom.