Prince Andrew interview wins top prizes for cuts-hit BBC Newsnight at Royal Television Society Awards

The BBC took home ten of the 19 prizes at the Royal Television Society Awards last night, with the big wins of the evening going to Newsnight.

The programme, which is being hit by cuts, won Scoop of the Year and Interview of the Year for its 50-minute face-to-face with Prince Andrew.

The royal faced tough questions over his ties with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, who died in a New York jail cell last year, and an allegation that he slept with an underage girl in the US, which he denies.

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The fallout from the televised encounter resulted in the Queen’s son stepping back from royal duties days after it aired in November last year.

Emily Maitlis, who carried out the interview, was named Network Presenter of the Year, while Newsnight was crowned Daily News Programme of the Year.

Said Maitlis: “A lot of people ask how it feels to be interviewing a royal, a senior royal, in the middle of Buckingham Palace and I guess the thing I would say is it wasn’t actually about the royal.

“It was an interview for women watching around the world who were waiting to see if we asked the right questions, at the right moment, to things that we needed answering.

“It was an extraordinary chance for us to be able to do that and we’re very grateful that Prince Andrew came and put himself through a scrutiny that, to be honest, many politicians haven’t and wouldn’t.”

As a result of an ongoing major restructure of BBC News cutting 450 jobs to meet savings of £80m by 2022, Newsnight will lose 12 posts while its in-depth films and investigative journalism will also be cut back.

Sky News saw off the BBC to claim News Channel of the Year at last night’s ceremony, held at the London Hilton Hotel.

The channel, which took home five awards overall, also won the Digital Award for its story “Why are transgender people self-medicating?” which was broadcast on Snapchat Discover and Youtube.

Sky head of news John Ryley said: “We really try and push the boundaries about how news is told and reported back to all our audiences and all our different platforms in the UK.”

CNN chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour was awarded the Outstanding Contribution Award for a career spanning four decades.

Judges described her as a “towering global figure” in broadcast journalism and a “committed campaigner for media freedom and the safety of journalists.”

The Judges’ Award this year went, unusually, to the political teams at all of the major UK national broadcasters – BBC News, Sky News, ITV News, Channel 4 News and 5 News.

In explaining their decision, the RTS judges said: “The divisions of Brexit put unprecedented pressure on political journalists. Many suffered abuse and threats.

“In addition – as Adam Boulton wrote recently – relations between the media and the political class are being increasingly challenged as politicians bypass journalists, preferring instead to put their messages out directly.

“Against this background the judges decided that the RTS should recognise all the political teams across all the UK broadcasters for their important role as guardians of democracy.”

The prize was accepted by political editors, including the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg and Sky News’ Beth Rigby.

Said Kuenssberg: “It’s not just that the story has been compelling and important, but I think we’ve probably all felt our audiences have known that our coverage of what’s been done in their name has had a huge impact on their lives – and it’s not always obvious as a journalist that you can say that therefore… it’s felt like it’s really mattered.

“While the public wasn’t necessarily obsessed with every tiny fine detail of votes in Parliament, people knew how much the last 12 months has mattered in terms of decisions being made in their name and that’s made it a privilege and a responsibility to do this story.”

Picture: Richard Kendal/RTS

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1 thought on “Prince Andrew interview wins top prizes for cuts-hit BBC Newsnight at Royal Television Society Awards”

  1. RTS ceremony is so bizarre, awards for following the rules and playing the game. How any self respecting journalist could accept one of their awards is beyond me.

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