A day in the life of British news.

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The way a network presents its news, both visually and editorially says a lot about the channel. For the sake of comparison lets look at how ITV, BBC, Sky and Channel 4 covered today’s Ash-attack.

I’ll avoid making comment on the various broadcasters editorial skills, but to summarise the look and feel of each news bulletin:

– The BBC is the straightest, clean lines, serious look.
– Channel 4 is the edgiest, feels a touch alternative.
– ITV is the glossiest, very shiny, little to CGI heavy.
– And Sky News is by far the least interesting.

For some historical perspective, check out my 2007 edition of this exact same post.

With the launch of ABC News 24 getting close, I look forward to seeing how the ABC takes on the task of branding a whole news channel. Hopefully nothing like Sky.

23 Responses to “A day in the life of British news.”


  • It was hard to not believe the “illustration video of an airplane thru a dust cloud” was NOT a joke.

    Sorry, but i used your videos on my blog because the subject was hyper-interesting.

  • BBC’s intro is way too long. I don’t like how the ITV ident plays and then *BOOM* the ITV anchor is looking you straight in the face standing barely a few centimeters from the camera. I prefered ITV’s old clock-face intro.

  • The BBC’s intro isn’t usually that long but given they had two HUGE events to take into account, you can understand why they took a bit longer than normal.

    Was this post planned to coincide with the most important day in UK political TV history?! 😀

  • my thoughts:

    BBC – good and professional. One problem is why George felt he needed to be at Heathrow…as if anything was going to happen during the broadcast – and no doubt they had another reporter there actually doing the reporting.
    Channel 4 – good, professional, well put together.
    ITV – so cheap looking – why would you change from a set that looks impressive to one that looks so cheap. and you can see the green of the green screen coming through…why does that still happen in 2010? And is that possibly the largest desk in history?
    SKY – urgh, fear based – listen to the words she uses and the emphasis she puts on them. and garish graphics. like a wannabe american news show.

  • What about Five?

  • what about it? FIVE’s lead story that night probably involved Lindsay Lohan.

  • From a production perspective, it looks to me like Sky News is in a temporary studio, as they usually favour flashy surroundings to match their overstated sensationalist graphics (with sound effects, I ask you!) something new and extraordinary seems imminent (ash permitting).

    Kudos to Jon Snow having a stab at pronouncing the volcano rather than blaming it on Iceland generally. That’s why Channel 4 News is the best editorially.

    Like your choice of opt outs from the West, John. Being consistent with your 2007 post, I take it.

    Really interesting, thanks.

  • Correct Mark, Sky News are in a temporary studio because the normal studio is undergoing a final refit and testing for the launch of Sky News HD, which will also come with a slight logo and graphics change. Sky News HD will be part-time for the moment when it launches on Thursday, with mainly election programming in high-def, until the full launch in the next month or so.

  • Yes, Sky’s main studio is being prepared for the launch of Sky News HD, with some fool opting the best time to refurbish it would be during the much anticipated election campaign, even though the likely date has been known for the best part of a year.

  • I’m outside of the UK, but I’ve always been interesting in Sky’s looks, always seemed rather nice mix of information and graphics.

    Is the apocalypse background in the open just election related? It looks like the world fell apart or something.

  • The Channel 4 & BBC sets are really nice, but the graphics and presentation of all of them are really tardy. Channel 4 and ITVs openers are appalling – I think all of the Australian networks (except SBS) have much nicer graphics and much tighter presentation. Just because a day has two big lead stories doesn’t mean that you need a two minute introduction that is stilted, full of less than spectucular vision and random interview grabs that don’t identify the interviewee.

  • I’d have do disagree with part of your statement there. Have you seen 7 News’s intro? Its horrible. :)

  • Yeah, your probably right! 😀

  • Same here. Channel Nine’s is way better

    Did you see the breaking new story on Seven and Nine this arvo?
    Both networks interuppted The Shak (Nine) and It’s Academic (Seven) just to bring you a media conference about Melbourne Storm.
    Who whatches Rugby League (NRL) anyway?

  • I just saw the new seven opener – it is pretty bad – the old one pre-2008 (when it still had the helicopter in it) was *much* better.

  • Agreed. The new one is, well, very cheap looking.

  • If I recall correctly, the music for the Channel 4 theme is the same as what was used for the ABCs short-lived news experiment, “The National”. Or, more likely, the ABC stole it from somewhere else…

  • They better not use it for ABC News 24, let me tell you!

  • Can someone do an up to date; day in the life of Australian news??

  • Can I second that request – would be interesting.

    Personally I find most news presentation in both Australia and the US very dated in comparison to what we get here in the UK and across Europe – much of it hasn’t progressed from the eighties!

    The only mistake ITV News made with their recent revamp was having a temporary revamp six months earlier with such a nice studio. Outside of News at Ten before that the main “theatre of news” looked incredibly data, but the London backdrop used for much of 2009 freshened it up nicely, meaning when the multi-story car park of news was launched late last year there was a bit of a backlash.

    Personally though I like that sort of thing and in many ways it’s what a revamp should be – initially it may look like a complete change, but the Big Ben imagery and famous signature tune are still making their presence felt.

  • I actually never liked Seven News’ graphics, and I still don’t!

  • For a shortened version of New Zealand’s TVNZ ‘One News’ opener see the following link (follows an embedded advertisement). Note that the presenters of this one minute bulletin are not those from the regular main bulletin:

    http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/one-news-minute-informed-quickly-video-166452

    and for an idea of the opener of New Zealand’s TV3 ‘3 News’ see the short bulletins available on their wesbite here:

    http://www.3news.co.nz/

    The premier bulletins of these NZ networks screen at 6pm (too early for many evening commuters, but there are later bulletins and of course digital recording anyway) and run for a commercial hour, however there are rumours afoot that both may reduce to a commercial half-hour in the not to distant future due to decreased advertising revenue and rising costs.

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