'The last thing I am going to do is damage the bulletins'

By Caitlin Pike

The
new controller of BBC News 24, Kevin Bakhurst, has said the new
importance placed on the rolling news channel will not damage the
quality of the main 6pm and 10pm bulletins.

In his first day in
the job Bakhurst, who was previously editor of the Ten O’Clock News,
told Press Gazette: “The last thing I am going to do is damage the
bulletins. I think part of the reason for my appointment is that I can
bring some of the aspirations we had on the Ten O’Clock News to News
24, but I also understand how the bulletins work.”

Bakhurst said the culture within BBC News has already changed to make News 24 the focus of its operation.

When
head of TV news Peter Horrocks announced that News 24 was to be put
centre stage at BBC News, insiders said there was resistance to the
plans and that senior correspondents previously assigned to specific
bulletins were reluctant to break stories on News 24. But Bakhurst said
that initial resistance has disappeared: “Peter Horrocks has already
changed the culture here as far as News 24 goes. The channel has real
confidence now and there is a lot more support for it from right across
TV news, including other programmes and senior correspondents.”

Bakhurst said it was a “big deal” for him to leave the Ten O’Clock News, but that he has ambitious plans.

“I
now run the channel and am in charge editorially. I want it to be far
more ambitious. We’ve got to a good place and are beating Sky in
audience and share, but I want the channel to make the most of the
BBC’s news machine.”

He added that competition is very important and that it was a “sad fact”

that
ITV had closed its news channel: “Now there is just us and Sky. I think
they are very good competition on many stories but we have greater
depth in terms of quality correspondents and there is a difference in
tone generally. I hope viewers will appreciate the quality and range of
stories we will do as well as the speed and accuracy that is crucial.”

He
said an example of the channel’s strength was its resources in terms of
news gathering. He gave its coverage of the German ice rink disaster as
an example, claiming News 24 was the only UK-based television news
organisation with a correspondent at the scene.

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