Since the launch of BBC News 24 in November 1997, BBC One has used a simulcast of the 24-hour news channel to fill the overnight hours. Prior to that, BBC One’s transmitter network was closed down during the night.
Unlike its biggest rivals back in the day – ITV and Channel 4 – the BBC never really embraced the idea of a proper overnight schedule (other than educational programming on BBC Two).
In the early years of the BBC One handover to BBC News 24, the presenters on the news channel would often acknowledge that BBC One viewers had just joined them. The transition was usually quite tidy, with BBC One joining just as the presenter was about to move to the next item.
This would obviously have required some level of communication between the respective BBC One and BBC News 24 directors.
However, sloppiness gradually crept in, and became the norm. Since the early 2000s, most BBC One late-night transitions to the BBC News Channel have shown little regard for what’s going out on the news network, with BBC One often crashing into a report or a programme.
BBC One usually finishes its day with a 3-minute Weather for the Week Ahead. With a weather forecast going out on the news channel at roughly .25 and .55, you’d quite rightly think that BBC One might want to avoid joining the BBC News Channel for a weather forecast, hot on the heels of airing its own. But again and again, this is exactly what happens on BBC One.
We’ve also reported on here that this has even given rise to the BBC One weather forecast contradicting weather information shown moments later on the BBC News Channel simulcast.
But even when the BBC One schedule looks perfect for a clean top-of-the-hour handover to the BBC News Channel, this is what often happens:
Three trails were included before and two after Weather for the Week Ahead on BBC One. This could easily have been trimmed down, to meet the BBC News Channel bang on the hour. Instead, BBC One also played out an unnecessary BBC News sting, caught the last few seconds of the headlines, and then into the news programme’s opening titles. A completely avoidable mess.
Here’s what happens when the person in control actually cares enough about the quality of what they’re putting out, irrespective of the time of day it might be:
Would you join the BBC News at Six or the BBC News at Ten halfway through its opening headlines? No, you wouldn’t. The late-night simulcast should be treated no differently to any other programme in the schedule.
There’s no doubt that the day-to-day time variations in the BBC One late-night schedule don’t make this task easy. BBC One programme scheduling has an important role to play here.
The directors on the BBC News Channel/BBC World News have other priorities. We’re not suggesting they should be involved in a discussion every night with BBC One pres, about how to best execute this opt point. The onus should be on the BBC One pres team.
When you’re handed a gift of a schedule – such as last night’s BBC One scenario – a minor bit of tinkering with some trails would give you the perfect result. An opportunity sadly not taken up last night.
Another solution here might be to provide BBC One pres with some short programme filler solutions – that don’t necessarily have to be included in EPGs/published listings. These would provide the flexibility needed to get around some of the awkwardness caused by the main BBC One schedule.
BBC One: there are some simple options here to clean up these junctions – if you care enough!
PICTURED: BBC News Channel programme titles. COPYRIGHT: BBC.