Starting next week, a new-look for the BBC’s flagship news bulletin will be unveiled. The Ten O’Clock news will be longer and boast enhanced production values. The revamped programme will now run to a total of 45 minutes, including local news and weather. This follows the recent relaunch of rival ITV’s News at Ten anchored by Tom Bradby, delivering ‘news with personality’. These two developments, combined with ITV hiring the Beeb’s former economics editor Robert Peston, has led to the latest outbreak of news wars. The feud has spurred headlines across the media such as ‘Rows at ten! Huw and Tom at war over viewing figures’ and ‘Ding-dong at ten’.
However with increasing numbers of audience moving online, will these attempts to future-proof news bulletins deliver any impact? As PR professionals we keep a close eye on the ever-evolving media landscape to deliver carefully crafted content that is spot on for each outlet.
When it comes to the impact of latest news wars, opinion is divided. Arguably the biggest problem for the future of news is the way these programmes have been outpaced by online content. With broadcasters chasing younger audiences and those all-important viewing figures, this spells bad news.
Competitors such as Buzzfeed and Twitter are quickly replacing traditional programing as a source of news, particularly breaking stories. However, competition is good and much work is being done to produce quality television news for mobile phones. Does this online content go hand in hand with its television equivalent or do news bulletins risk becoming nothing more than a ‘shop window’ for a broadcasters’ digital service?
I think not. News bulletins are a crucial part of a multimedia offering and have a strong future, despite their slowly declining audiences. After all, the death of television news has been predicted for many years and hasn’t happened yet! According to ITV, News at Ten averages 1.9m viewers (October 2015, following the revamp), while the ratings for its BBC rival achieve a year-to-date average of 4.1m. Both programmes continue to atract a substantial audience and remain incredibly influential, watched by opinion formers and influencers alike.
Therefore the real ‘winner’ of these news wars perhaps isn’t perhaps an individual broadcaster but both of them – because they continue to innovate and resonate in our modern day media landscape.