No sooner had Saddam Hussein been captured than rival broadcasters were claiming to have broken the story.
Sky News claimed it broke the story at 9.55.35 on Sunday. But ITV’s controller of news and current affairs, Steve Anderson, claimed the ITV News Channel ran the story at “9.55am, ahead of Sky and BBC News 24”.
Reuters asserted it was “the first international news organisation to break the story” after it aired a story referring to a newsflash from Iranian news agency IRNA in Tehran.
During the UK broadcast of Saddam’s capture, the audience for Sky News peaked at 532,000, for News 24 at 315,000 and for ITV News Channel at 102,000. According to Barb’s unofficial overnight figures for Sunday, Sky News was ahead at 4.3 million (2.36 per cent of viewers) with News 24 at 3.2 million (1.48) and the ITV News Channel at 1.2 million (0.32).
Saddam’s capture came at the worst possible time for the big US news weeklies – just as their weekend press runs had started, writes Jeffrey Blyth in New York. Some copies were already on their way to the news-stands. Time and Newsweek scrapped their editions. Both then carried the same cover picture. Time had planned to run a cover story on Jesus Christ and the Lost Gospels, Newsweek a cover on the Democratic Party candidate Howard Dean.