BBC Ten O'Clock News plans interactive launch

The BBC will launch what it claims is the world’s first interactive television news bulletin this autumn.

The broadcaster, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of BBC Television News, will take on two extra journalists and some graphics specialists to deliver BBC Ten O’Clock News Extra. It will be broadcast from September on digital satellite, Freeview and digital cable to “provide an added depth and context to the news”.

By pressing the now familiar red button on remote control handsets, viewers will be able to access longer interviews on the day’s news events, extra footage and background information on up to three of the bulletin’s stories.

Ten O’Clock News Extra will also provide profiles of people in the news and “instructive graphics in a new form of interactive TV journalism”, the BBC announced on 5 July – exactly five decades after its first television news report was aired.

The Ten O’Clock News team will provide the service, initially available Monday to Friday from 10pm to 10.45pm, but Richard Deverell, head of BBC News Interactive, told Press Gazette that the Extra service could extend to throughout the day as well as to other bulletins in the future, depending on how successful trials were.

“The results will decide whether we spread the service to other bulletins or do more around the 10 o’clock one, which is where we have our highest number of young viewers,” he said. “At that time of night, people watching the news are sitting down paying attention.

“Ten O’Clock News Extra will provide that platform for added depth and context to the bulletin and will help drive a new audience towards our interactive services,” added Richard Sambrook, director of BBC News.

The autumn launch of Ten O’Clock News Extra follows on from interactive services pioneered on the channel by flagship current affairs series Panorama nearly three years ago.

Following September 11, Panorama launched a special interactive television service on cable television that enabled viewers to find out the latest information about the attacks, as well as e-mail and read their views through their remote control handsets.

The move encouraged Panorama to extend the service later on by building a special website to accompany the programme’s investigation into the British National Party and introduce interactive debates for the programme, including one to accompany the Panorama Special on the MMR vaccine in February 2002.

By Wale Azeez

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