Final 'BBC News' at 9pm ends a 30-year tradition

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Thirty years after Robert Dougall first read its headlines over the airwaves, the BBC News at nine o'clockbroadcast its final bulletin last night, marking the end of a television institution.

Thirty years after Robert Dougall first read its headlines over the airwaves, the BBC News at nine o'clockbroadcast its final bulletin last night, marking the end of a television institution.

The presenter Peter Sissons oversaw the programme's last appearance in its old slot before it moves to its controversial new time of 10pm, on Monday. There, it will eventually go head to head with ITV's News at Ten, which is itself due to move back from 11pm.

While lacking the idiosyncracies that have generated News at Ten so much public affection, the BBC's flagship news has seen some of the most legendary presenters in television history, including Kenneth Kendall, Angela Rippon and Richard Baker.

The BBC was keen to play down the move yesterday, and said there would be no valedictory sign-off. "It's not as if it's being relaunched next week, it's the same programme, just broadcast at a different time. There will be the same presentation, set ... it will perform the same function," said a spokesman.

But the corporation's move forms part of an increasingly bizarre game of broadcast news musical chairs. After ITV's decision to move News at Ten to 11pm - a move widely condemned by both pundits and politicians - the network eventually said it would return the bulletin to 10pm, for at least three nights of the week at least.

Then two weeks ago Greg Dyke, director general of the BBC, announced the swift rescheduling of the corporation's own news programme, to 10pm. This was seen as an attempt to capitalise on ITV's discomfort over its news scheduling.

Last week the satellite broadcaster Sky Television announced the creation of its own 9pm bulletin, which will also begin on Monday. Nick Pollard, head of Sky News, said it was meant to cater for viewers fed up with the recent changes. "We see the bulletin as a portal to allow disillusioned former BBC nine o'clock news viewers - used to watching the news at a set time - to make the transition to Sky News, where they can access news where and when it suits them," he said.

The BBC's new nightly news will run for six nights a week, including a 15-minute programme on Sunday.

The move has not been welcomed outside the BBC. Chris Smith, the Culture Secretary, and his Conservative shadow, Peter Ainsworth, have expressed regret at the decision, while Norman Baker, of the Liberal Democrats, said it was further evidence of BBC1 being forced "downmarket".

An ITV spokeswoman said the network would still wait until the new year before moving its bulletin.

Comments