Dyke to keep BBC's rolling news channel

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The Independent Online
THE BBC'S rolling news channel has been reprieved by Greg Dyke, director-general designate. Mr Dyke, reportedly unhappy about the money being diverted to News 24 from conventional services, was questioned at a staff gathering last week and said he was committed to continuing with it.

He said he had seen that the future of television was with digital channels such as News 24. He also agrees with Sir John Birt, whose idea the channel was, that the BBC, as the world's biggest news organisation, had to have its own continuous news service.

A department insider said: "It would have been bizarre if he had been appointed director- general by a board of governors who had previously agreed the digital strategy and then closed down the channel that is at its core. But it is good that he has removed any shadow over its future."

When Mr Dyke was at Pearson he pulled it out of a shareholding in the BBC's foreign rolling news channel, BBC World. That is losing money and it was thought by some that Mr Dyke would shut both channels when he takes over in April.

However, News 24 is to be changed. In the BBC annual report last month it was criticised by the governors, who believe it lacks the gravitas of the rest of the BBC's news. It has tightened up its editorial content by including more summaries, with sports and business news every half- hour. It has also appointed assistant editors to improve writing skills.

The timing of Mr Dyke's announcement was significant, because the channel, which had a weak start last year, increased audiences by up to 1.4 million a week during the Kosovo war and emerged from the conflict looking stronger.