'Bitesize' bulletin plan to boost BBC News audience

The BBC is considering adding more ‘bitesize’ news bulletins to TV schedules in a bid to attract more young people to its journalism.

The corporation has told the BBC Trust that it is looking at new ways of halting the declining reach of BBC News on television.

In a report on how well the BBC is serving young audiences, published yesterday, the Trust found that 45 per cent of 16 to 34-year-olds watched BBC News each week compared with 68 per cent of all adults.

“The BBC faces growing challenges to deliver news to young people and to reach teenagers on television,” the Trust said.

“The BBC will need to use the full range of its platforms – TV, radio and online – to find a solution to falling consumption of television news.

“Given the importance of news to the BBC’s public service remit, this is a major challenge for the BBC.”

The Trust praised the series of 60-second news bulletins on digital channel BBC Three, which it said were well received by young audiences.

The BBC has said it could extend the “bitesize” format elsewhere, following the introduction of a 90-second bulletin at 8pm on BBC1 in late 2007.

“We are putting considerable effort into reaching the widest possible audience,” the corporation said in a statement.

“The BBC has shown its innovation in this area before and we will draw on that as we move forward and build on what has already been achieved.”

In its report, the BBC Trust also singled out digital radio station 1Xtra, which it found was not attracting good enough audiences to its news output.

The station has been given permission to ditch its two-hour afternoon news programme, from 2pm to 4pm, instead introducing two 15-minute bulletins at lunchtime and early evening. 1Xtra will also be allowed to drop its hourly overnight news bulletins.

The BBC Trust review was based on a 12-week consultation with more than 9,000 licence fee-payers, including a series of face-to-face meetings held in conjunction with the BBC Youth Council.

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