60 Seconds takes off prior to BBC3 launch decision


The BBC has launched its new 60 Seconds bulletin on BBC Choice ahead of the Government’s decision on whether the channel can be relaunched as the digital BBC3.

The new one-minute bulletin will be going out on BBC Choice every two hours while the corporation waits for a Government decision on its digital channel proposals. If plans for BBC3, a proposed youth channel, get the go-ahead, the bulletin will be hourly.

Presented by either Sumit Bose or Tazeen Ahmad, each 60 Second bulletin includes five stories, with online back-up on the channel’s website.

Colin Hancock, who moved from BBC Radio 1 to become editor of television news output for BBC Choice, believes the new bulletin, which features split-screen text and video presentation, has a style and pace which will appeal to the entertainment channel’s viewers.

"We are not making great claims that this will pull in lots of new viewers for news, but we have created something that will bring news to the kind of audience that watches the channel," said Hancock. "Obviously it isn’t setting out to replace the mainstream news and no one at the BBC is going to be scrapping Newsnight, but the fact that we will hopefully have a new channel has allowed us to try new things, aimed at a different kind of viewer."

After announcing an extension to the consultation over the BBC’s digital plans, which include the relaunch of BBC Choice along with eight other TV and radio networks, it is thought that Media Secretary Tessa Jowell will announce the Government’s decision at this year’s Edinburgh TV festival.

As well as laying down the rule that the new channels could not be used as an excuse to move minority broadcasting from the main national services, Jowell said last week at the Radio Festival in Manchester that the new channels should be "distinctive" and contribute to the BBC’s "core purpose".

Hancock said the new channel would focus more on celebrity and sports stories than mainstream news programmes, but would also be doing hard news. "We will be doing stories that directly affect people’s lives," he said. "Political stories, like the Conservative leadership election, won’t necessarily make it to the top of the agenda. The result would be at the top, of course, but a big football signing may be too."

By Julie Tomlin

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