BBC interactive news service may launch this year

Sue Barker

 

The BBC is drawing up plans for an interactive news service, which could be launched by the end of the year.

As the BBC gears up for its first interactive Wimbledon Tennis Championships, a service allowing viewers to choose from a menu of video news and text services could be available from as early as the autumn.

Staff are already being recruited for the news service, which is being worked on by the BBC’s online and interactive teams and is being spearheaded by Mike Smartt, executive editor of BBC News Online.

Press advertisements were placed last week for two assistant editors to help produce video and text for the interactive service which will also provide coverage of live events.

A spokesman said the BBC’s interactive services would build on the success of online services, which recent figures show are attracting around 160 million page hits a month.

The launch comes a year after the introduction of Sky News Interactive, which featured prominently in its election coverage. BBC chiefs admit they have trailed the field in developing interactive services and are now looking to catch up.

Interactive news will build on recent developments, such as BBC Sport Online’s daily video bulletins and the interactive Wimbledon service which, following a deal with ntl, will be available to digital subscribers from Monday.

But the corporation’s move into the interactive field has already attracted criticism from its commercial rivals. ITV chief executive Stuart Prebble, delivering the annual Goodman Derrick lecture in London this week, criticised as "inappropriate" such use of licence-fee payers’ money.

 

By Julie Tomlin

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