All change for BBC bulletins as newcomer Horrocks lets News 24 lead

By
Caitlin Pike Peter Horrocks has sparked a revolution in BBC television
news after only six weeks at the helm, by placing News 24 at the heart
of the operation.

BBC editors, journalists and producers are
divided into two camps by Horrocks’ radical plans: those who welcome
the changes and those who feel resentful at the lack of consultation.

The
major change to the way television news is organised will be the
increased importance of News 24 and the creation of a single team of
journalists and producers who will work to one rota, rather than in
distinct teams for the One O’Clock, Six O’Clock and Ten O’Clock News
bulletins.

A “daytime editor” will be chosen from the two
existing editors of One and Six – Chris Rybczynski and Amanda
Farnsworth respectively.

Some senior newsgathering staff welcomed
the move by Horrocks – appointed head of television news in September –
as their “dream scenario”.

However, a senior news correspondent
at the corporation told Press Gazette that the editors of the major
bulletins were “pissed off” that they had not been consulted over the
changes and would now have to face losing the autonomy they have over
their programmes.

Horrocks told Press Gazette that the need for
cuts and savings demanded by director general Mark Thompson had been
part of the reason for the sweeping changes. “Making cuts is one of the
things that’s driving it. We have all got to make these efficiency
savings and it’s a question of where we make savings and how we
allocate them.

“But for me this is more about creating a sense of
direction, six weeks after I came to TV news. I want to achieve more
original journalism, more distinctive reporting, support News 24
effectively and make sure that the best material is shared across our
output.”

Rachel Attwell, who was head of News 24, BBC World and
BBC Parliament, has been made deputy head of television news – second
in command to Horrocks. Her former role and the role of editorial
director of News 24, currently performed by Mark Popescu, will be
replaced by a new controller of News 24, which Horrocks described as
“the biggest job in TV journalism on offer publicly for some time”. It
is thought the current editor of The Ten O’Clock News, Kevin Backhurst,
is one internal contender for the job.

Popescu does not yet have a clear role in the new setup.

Horrocks
is turning the full attention of BBC journalists to News 24 at a time
when the channel claims to be beating the new-look Sky News in both
share and reach.

Since Sky News’ relaunch, the BBC says Sky has lost 300,000 viewers and News 24 has gained 200,000.

Horrocks
said: “Sky has gone in the direction of spending a significant amount
of money on its set and to some extent on its presenters. I’m putting
my resources into editorial and breaking more stories.”

rereGeorge
Entwistle, former editor of Newsnight and most recently executive
editor of topical arts, has taken on Horrocks’ former role as the BBC’s
head of television current affairs.

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