BBC News will launch a revised schedule this March which will leave the service with no planned facility to cover UK breaking news stories.
Existing UK-only programmes on the BBC News Channel will come to an end next week. From 6th March, a new joint UK/international schedule will see UK viewers receive programmes including World Business Report.
International viewers will see regular news programmes including Live, Impact and Global replaced by the new service.
The schedule will be temporary to allow staff and resources to be used to prepare for the full launch of the combined channel this April. But during this time, the BBC will temporarily lose the ability to go live to UK viewers only, in the event of a UK-specific breaking news story.
Headline sequences will be axed, with live news programmes going straight to the top story of the hour.
The combined daytime schedule will broadcast from Studio E (the main newsroom-facing studio) until April, when Studio C (the current World News studio in the basement) will take over full time.
BBC Sport in Salford will produce a mix of combined and UK-only sports bulletins.
In an e-mail to staff, BBC Deputy News Editor Toby Castle confirmed:
- World Business Report will be broadcast on both channels at 11.30am and 2.30pm.
- BBC One news programmes at 1pm, 6pm and 10pm will be on the UK feed only.
- BBC World News America will be on the international feed.
Ad breaks on the international version of the new channel will be filled with UK-focussed content for UK viewers. It’s not known if World News America will appear on the UK version of the channel later in March, when the time difference between the UK and USA shrinks by one hour due to the USA starting daylight savings (summer time) earlier than in the UK.
Normally, this time difference results in changes to the evening schedule, pushing The Context to start half an hour later in the UK. Elsewhere in the evenings, the current ‘branded’ schedule will continue on both services, with Outside Source and The Context continuing as normal.
From April, the BBC plans to use Studio A, its basement studio with a virtual backdrop, to deliver a back-up UK breaking news facility as and when required. This back-up will be in operation between 9am and 11pm (UK time).
And it’s been confirmed that new digital streams – first mentioned in The Sunday Times last week as being “under consideration” – are in fact earmarked for launch later this year.
The Sunday Times reported that these streams would be Red Button channels offering viewers in-depth coverage of stories specific to the UK. It’s still unclear what form these will take, but it’s reminiscent of the News Multiscreens service offered by the BBC in the early days of digital TV, but delivered online.
The latest developments follow warnings by regulator Ofcom that it expects the BBC to continue delivering high quality news content for UK audiences. It’s threatened to impose conditions on the BBC if this doesn’t happen.
PICTURED: BBC newsroom. COPYRIGHT: BBC.