Viewers complain about recent changes to BBC News channel, including a live simulcast of Radio 5 Live’s Nicky Campbell show.
Since Monday 17th April, BBC News and BBC Two have simulcast Radio 5 Live’s morning phone-in show. The move was originally announced last summer, when the BBC first unveiled plans to combine its UK and international news channels.
Due to the Snooker, only the first hour is shown on BBC Two until the end of the World Championships. But viewers have said they want news not talk on the channel at that time.
The televised radio show has also drawn criticism for its basic presentation, in contrast to radio/TV simulcasts on GB News and TalkTV. TalkTV launched with daytime simulcasts of TalkRadio’s existing shows. GB News launched on TV first, adding a radio simulcast later.
Comments on social media have been less than flattering about the new simulcast, which has replaced rolling news:
But BBC colleague Eloise Maddocks was among the very few to offer sympathetic comments on the change:
Chaotic launch of new service
Since the combination of both services, viewers have reported a decline in production quality on the UK opt-out of the channel.
Incidents have included the channel crashing into Newsnight in the middle of the News at 10 weather forecast. Individual programmes have failed to be broadcast and replaced at short notice.
The BBC promised that UK stories would continue to be featured on the channel. But pre-recorded generic features from regional news teams to fill ad-breaks on the international feed are repeated over several days, meaning the UK stories are not always up-to-date.
What is behind the BBC News channel changes?
Both the licence-fee funded BBC News channel and the commercially funded BBC World News channel have seen their incomes / profits decline in recent years.
Under reduced budgets, both channels had become relatively stale, with very little innovation.
BBC management say combining the channels will result in “a better service” and an opportunity to change the way news stories are reported. As part of the changes, UK-only content on the News channel began to be phased out in October. Newspaper preview The Papers was axed at the beginning of January. Going forward, UK-specific content on the channel will be mainly material simulcast with another BBC service.
Controversially, as job posts in the UK have been closed, the BBC has been recruiting new staff to work on the expansion of its North America news division. This is being funded by the public-funded part of the BBC, not its commercial arm BBC Studios. The BBC hopes it can increase commercial income by tapping in to the North American market, but this raises concerns that this is being done at the expense of the service previously provided to UK viewers.