News Channel merger plans abandoned



UPDATED | Plans to merge the BBC News Channel with international TV service BBC World News have been abandoned by the BBC.

The controversial plan was originally devised as part of a cost-saving initiative, that could have seen the merged channel trying to balance covering major news stories of UK interest with major international news stories.

Another option, to close the News Channel altogether, was binned by BBC Director General Tony Hall earlier this week when he announced the BBC's Annual Report.

Instead both news channels will face efficiency savings of 10%. Both channels have already been squeezed financially, with licence fee funding being squeezed for the domestic News Channel and commercial revenues under pressure at BBC World News.

The BBC said it had created a financial model for a single channel, but having "listened to what both audiences and BBC staff" and decided that merging the channel wouldn't be the best way of offering UK and international audiences a "news agenda that is most directly relevant to them".

But with further efficiency savings due to be made, it appears unlikely that recent changes to the News Channel's output, including the introduction of more simulcast hours with BBC World News will be reversed. Currently both channels simulcast Business Live (08:30), Outside Source / World News Today (21:00) and news overnight (00:00-05:59). Late news on the channel has been replaced by a repeat of Newsnight, with shared current affairs and magazine programmes filling the back half-hour of weekend broadcasts.

Recently, the BBC announced the loss of almost 100 jobs in its Monitoring division, which analyses news feeds from around the world as part of ongoing budgetary reductions. Last week, BBC World News journalists staged a 24 hour strike in protest to changes in staffing rotas.


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