Power fault at BBC puts television and radio news off air

The BBC was forced yesterday to postpone the relaunch of its BBC News 24 channel after an electrical fault caused the television news service and two BBC radio stations to go off air.

Power problems at Television Centre in Wood Green, north London, left BBC News 24 off air for half an hour and Radio 4 was down for approximately 15 minutes. Radio 5 lost broadcast for two minutes and an emergency tape was played for five minutes.

BBC1 continued to broadcast although the 1pm news bulletin was transmitted from the corporation's offices in Millbank, central London, rather than Television Centre.

A spokesman said that the 6pm and 10pm BBC1 news bulletins yesterday evening would be transmitted from Television Centre as normal even though the fault had not yet been corrected. "Staff have ensured normal service resumed as quickly as possible," he said. "This was unforeseen and unfortunate." The relaunch of BBC News 24, which was due on Monday, has been postponed by a week, he added.

Rachel Attwell, head of BBC News 24, said: "The power cut has stopped work on the new set today, and there will be more disruption over the weekend - so we will give our teams a few more days to make sure the news centre has a secure electricity supply."

The Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, who had been waiting to talk to the Radio 4 Today programme when it was forced off air, joked about the situation.

Interviewed when the show had been moved to another studio, he quipped: "Perhaps it's a not so subtle bid by the BBC to increase the licence fee to pay the electricity bill."

Tessa Jowell, the Culture and Media Secretary who had been cut off mid-sentence when the problems struck the flagship radio news show, said she had hoped she would be allowed to answer questions without being interrupted.

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