The piecemeal rollout of the BBC Reith font across BBC News continues. On Monday morning, the BBC Business Live titles were updated to BBC Reith. Naturally, all other graphics used within the programme (e.g., lower-thirds, markets graphics etc) continue to use Helvetica. All makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Why not just wait another few weeks, and introduce the updated titles in line with the changes to the BBC News logo, lower-thirds etc?
And surely the tweak of font in the title sequence would be a fairly simple change, yes? Hard to imagine anything going awry there? Well, they’ve managed it. If we have a quick look at the old titles, you’ll notice the word ‘LIVE’ is displayed in blue; the vertical line on the left of the programme title is teal. Seems reasonably sensible, since these colours also occur in the programme’s globe device.
Then compare this to the Reith version: the word ‘Live’ has changed case (not a big problem) – but the colour has also changed – it’s now a slightly darker shade of teal than the vertical line. Such a slight difference in shade that it just looks like a mistake. This type of thing might work fine in the world of high-quality print, but such marginal colour differences can be tricky in relation to broadcast digital compression, which can further mask such a subtle difference. So, we’re left with no hint of blue in the programme title text now. Whilst I’d say this is a shame, it’s not a complete deal-breaker. Although there’s quite a bit of blue in evidence elsewhere – on the set and in lower-thirds – it could be argued that the blue colouring is at least still present in the globe device. But there’s no reason why it couldn’t have been retained in the logo text.
I’m probably more concerned about the fact that the ‘L’ of ‘Live’ doesn’t line up with the edge of the ‘BBC BUSINESS’ text. Now that’s just clumsy.
The vertical/line spacing between ‘BBC’, ‘BUSINESS’ and ‘Live’ is also inconsistent (the wrong type of inconsistent – I’ll explain in a moment) – using a mixed case ‘Live’ doesn’t help in that respect, the tittle of the ‘i’ sits higher than the top of the ‘L’; but the positioning of the top of the ‘L’ is arguably the priority, visually. The inconsistency of the line spacing is not the problem though – the line spacing can be inconsistent and look right. ‘BBC BUSINESS’ is a brand in itself and any text sitting beneath that should not have line spacing that is less than the gap between ‘BBC’ and ‘BUSINESS’ – to do such as thing is effectively impinging on the territory of that brand. Having the line spacing consistent between all three rows would work (as the colour and size of ‘Live’ clearly distinguishes it as a separate element from the ‘BBC BUSINESS’ brand), or, alternatively, a slightly larger line space between ‘BUSINESS’ and ‘Live’.
These text alignment and spacing issues are not just careless, but unforgiveable. This programme is broadcast to an audience of millions. I’ve seen more care taken with one-off graphics on regional news programmes.
PICTURED: still from BBC Business Live title sequence. SUPPLIED BY: The TV Room. COPYRIGHT: BBC.