Best news channel award ends RTS misery for Sky

Sky News’s Jeremy Thompson, Kay Burley, Bob Friend, Natasha Kaplinsky and Simon McCoy

Sky News has been named news channel of the year by the Royal Television Society after "a long, hard struggle" to gain recognition at the industry awards traditionally dominated by the BBC and ITN.

Nick Pollard, head of Sky News, said that after battling for years against the dominance of the terrestrial broadcasters, the rolling news channel had finally won "due recognition" for its work.

Jeremy Thompson, flanked by his fellow presenters, echoed Pollard’s sentiments. "It’s great to be recognised by your peers, but perhaps it’s more important to be acknowledged and accepted," he said.

In the past, Sky News has been critical of the RTS for its perceived bias towards the terrestrial broadcasters. Thompson alluded to its failure to make its mark when he said: "Sky NewsÉwon an award? Could the award have been made for us?"

But Pollard rejected suggestions that bestowing the newly created award on Sky News was "a token gesture" by the RTS. "It’s right to have a special category now that both the BBC and ITN have a news channel," said Pollard. "I think it’s long overdue." Pollard, who this year steps down after three years as chairman of the RTS, said he thought the judging system, which was revised this year, "gets fairer and fairer".

A BBC source said the real test would be next year’s news channel award because everyone would be "desperate" to win it from the longest established news channel.

CNN also gained recognition in the world of British broadcasting when it picked up the innovation award for its videophone dispatches by correspondent Nic Robertson.

Despite not winning the premier RTS accolade in the news channel category, the BBC maintained its dominance in the awards by picking up eight of the 16 prizes this year.

The ITN News Channel failed to get a mention in the awards and the news provider’s only success, despite 11 nominations, was in the camera operator category, which was won by Malcolm Hicks of Channel 4 News.

lBBC director of news Richard Sambrook will take over from Pollard as chairman of the awards.

By Julie Tomlin

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