BBC News boss says viewers may lose News at Ten or other bulletins in coming years

Viewer habits are shifting away from terrestrial television.

BBC News

The BBC’s head of news has said traditional television bulletins may be cut over the next decade, as consumption shifts increasingly towards online.

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Currently, BBC One has three regular news programmes, which are broadcast at 1pm, 6pm and 10pm every weekday, but these could be scaled back if viewer habits persist.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Fran Unsworth was quizzed on the future of the BBC’s news coverage, specifically on whether News at Ten will outlive the News at Six.

“Possibly, or maybe the other way round,” she responded.

Unsworth went on to give her prediction of how the landscape of television news will evolve in the next 10 years, placing emphasis on multimedia content across different platforms.

“I think TV journalism will still be around because of the power of pictures to tell a story, but it won’t necessarily be received in quite the forms it currently is,” Unsworth said.

“So I still think, ultimately in 10 years’ time, we probably won’t be consuming linear bulletins exactly. I mean, I might be wrong about that. I doubt it.

“There might be one [bulletin] a day, or something. I think there’ll be fewer of them. But I think that the power of how you tell stories through television, pictures, video will just be in a different space.

“It’ll be in the digital space, it’ll be on, you know, iPlayer. It’ll be on your tablet, your iPhone. We have to think creatively about what the product is, but that’s the direction of travel and I don’t think that’s changed.”

BBC News programmes saw a significant increase in viewership during the UK coronavirus lockdown, although this has declined in recent weeks to more normal levels.

Unsworth expected such a pattern, stating past examples of major news stories causing a short-term spike, such as the London Bridge attacks in 2017 and 2019.

For her, the most important element was establishing the BBC’s reputation among a younger generation, as a service “to be relied on” and “not just any other news source”.

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