BBC News sweeps up RTS awards for credit crunch story

• The full list of winners

The BBC won nine of the 15 prizes at last night’s Royal Television Society journalism awards, helped by a string of exclusives broken by Robert Peston.

The corporation’s business editor was named specialist journalist of the year and overall journalist of the year at last night’s ceremony in London.

Judges said he “owned the story of the credit crunch and its impact on the whole economy” and “produced probably the most sustained run of scoops and exclusives in the history of broadcast news in the UK”.

The BBC News channel story on the HBOS/Lloyds TSB merger won scoop of the year and was described by judges as an “extraordinary exclusive which heralded the extraordinary changes in the British banking system”.

The corporation also won an award for its coverage of the British banking crisis as a whole – “without doubt the story of the year” – and BBC News was named channel of the year.

The BBC News at Ten, which faced increased competition last year from the relaunch of ITV’s News at Ten, was named programme of the year.

There were also awards for BBC Yorkshire’s regional current affairs show Inside Out, a BBC Panorama investigation into High Street retailer Primark and Newsnight’s docudrama on the events leading to the Iraq war in 2003.

Channel 4 won three awards, with Jon Snow picking up presenter of the year. C4 News’s coverage of the Congo crisis and a Dispatches undercover investigation in Tibet were also recognised.

Sky News won the awards for young journalist and camera operator of the year.

ITV left with one award – for regional news coverage of the Weston-super-Mare pier fire on ITV West.

Peter Wilkinson, ITN‘s longest-serving cameraman and the pioneer of aerial newsgathering, won a lifetime achievement award.

The RTS gave a special award to the journalists, cameramen and producers who had worked to get news out of Zimbabwe – a major international story that “would otherwise have remained largely hidden from view”.

“Robert Mugabe’s government in Zimbabwe has done its best to cover up the terrible economic and human cost of its actions by banning western broadcasters,” the judges said.

“Despite this, several extraordinary brave people have taken great risks to work with Western journalists and broadcasters because of their passionate belief that the real story of Zimbabwe must reach a wider world.

“It’s fair to say that without their work, very little of the British reporting of the country over the past few years would have been possible.”

Ofcom’s partner for content and standards, former TV news executive Stewart Purvis, won the RTS gold medal.

“He has been by turns inspiring and pretty terrifying; a true leader and an extraordinarily talented man; a genuine innovator and an uncompromising perfectionist; the sort of boss for whom – and maybe it’s a cliche but it’s still true – most of us would happily follow over the top of any trench towards the sound of guns.

“And besides, we have to be nice to him now because after more than 30 years as a leader of our industry, he’s now a regulator.”

• The full list of winners

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