Sky hopes to push towards holy grail for rolling news

By Caitlin Pike

The newly built Sky News Centre was revealed at 6am on Monday, along
with the channel’s new structured programme format designed to “push
towards the holy grail for rolling news”

and keep viewers watching for longer.

Head of news Nick
Pollard believes the new studio environment and programme format will
raise the profile of presenters, ‘hook’ viewers for longer and bring
about higher standards of journalism at the news channel.

Sky News had occupied the same studio and premises since its launch in February 1989.

Pollard
said: “We had pushed our former home about as far as it would possibly
go to make it do what we wanted it to do. The new studio is very
flexible with at least three different areas for presenters to be. At
the BBC this would have been a five- to 10-year project – it has taken
us 18 months.”

Pollard would not reveal exactly how much had been invested in the project, but said it ran into the millions.

The
centrepiece of the open plan studio is a 14m curved video wall that
presenters can walk along as unfolding stories are illustrated.

The newsroom is part of the studio with journalists working alongside camera operators.

Sky
News followed a traditional rolling news format for 16 years wherethe
day was broken up into what Pollard described as “five arbitrary
chunks”.

Executive editor John Riley conceived the new programme
format, which starts with Sunrise at 6am, presented by the former face
of GMTV Eamonn Holmes and Lorna Dunkley, and is followed by programmes
throughout the day, ending with Review and Business Report, which runs
from 4am until Sunrise airs again.

New presenters include former Clinton aide James Rubin and Gillian Joseph, who has joined from the BBC.

Pollard
said the switch to a more distinctive way of delivering the news was
designed to “push towards the holy grail for a rolling news channel and
hang on to people who join the channel for big stories. Appointmentto-
view programmes will hook people in when there isn’t a big story
breaking.”

He said the average amount of time a viewer stays with
Sky is 10 to 15 minutes and that they hoped to increase this by a
further five to 10 minutes.

Pollard is adamant that the new programmes will not jeopardise Sky’s devotion to breaking news or exclusives.

He
said the schedule would be “torn up for a big story” and that
production values had been increased to support investigative
journalism.

PROGRAMME SCHEDULE

0600-0900 Sunrise – Eamonn Holmes and Lorna Dunkley

0900-1200 Sky News Today – Anna Botting, Martin Stanford and Anna Jones

1200-1400 Lunchtime Live – Kay Burley

1400-1700 Sky News Today – Mark Longhurst, Ginny Buckley and Steve Dixon

1700-1830 Live at Five – Jeremy Thompson

1830-1900 Sportsline – Jon Desborough

1900-2000 The Sky Report – Julie Etchingham 2000-2100 World News Tonight – James Rubin

2100-0000 Evening News – Chris Roberts and Gillian Joseph

0000-0400 World News 0400-0600 Review and Business Report

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