BBC News is acknowledging the ongoing shift in news consumption habits as it looks to invest more in its digital journalism efforts, with changes aimed primarily at its U.K. audience.
This new investment comes as a result of the news organization announcing on Thursday savings and reinvestment plans, which include details to boost its digital journalism around the clock, increase its streaming offer on BBC iPlayer and the BBC News app, and bring more in-depth, analytical, and high-impact reporting to its online audiences.
BBC News is also facing financial pressures as linear TV audiences in the U.K. have declined by 11% over the last five years, and coupled with the Flat License fee settlement and the impact of inflation, the BBC as a whole is looking to make £500/$635 million in savings.
According to BBC News and current affairs CEO Deborah Turness, this strategy adjustment results from being in a “tough financial climate, and as our audiences shift rapidly from TV to online news consumption, we need to make choices about where we allocate our resources. While TV and radio remain crucial to BBC News, we must invest in our digital platforms to ensure they are also the home of our very best journalism, and today’s package of measures will accelerate this transformation.”
The majority of the changes being implemented will mainly affect BBC News’ U.K. linear audience. The long-running BBC News show NewsNight is being cut down to a 30-minute interview, debate, and discussion show on BBC Two as opposed to its previous incarnation, which was a 40-minute news show that focused more on investigative reporting and films.
Several key roles in Newsnight’s production and operational teams will also be cut.
“Newsnight has also been a source of great investigative reporting and films, but we know that people are consuming the news in different ways, and it can no longer make sense to keep a bespoke reporting team for a single television programme,” said Turness. “We will offer more to audiences by investing to ensure the best investigative journalism and reporting is produced – and consumed – across the whole of BBC News.
The new programme will no longer have a dedicated reporting team, but it will have access to our top reporting talent and experts from across BBC News, who will take part in the conversation and share their expertise and insights.”
A new BBC News Investigations Unit that brings together the best investigative talent across BBC News will be created. New roles will emerge in financial and political investigations, and their work will appear across all BBC News platforms and not just within one program.
Other changes included expanding the BBC News at One to an hour-long edition and relocating it from London to Salford, making it the first time a daily national BBC national news bulletin will be broadcast outside of London.
BBC’s morning show BBC Breakfast, which already broadcasts out of Salford, will be extended by an additional 15 minutes daily.
BBC News story teams in the UK will place a greater emphasis on digital storytelling and live coverage, which means there will be a reduction in the amount of TV news packages as the BBC moves to a digital-first approach.
This digital-first approach will create specialist roles with OSINT (open source intelligence), policy analysis expertise, and an expanded BBC Verify team.
BBC News will also create a UK Editor position based in Salford, create a Royal Editor, and add new correspondent and reporter positions covering Artificial Intelligence, Financial and Political Investigations, Employment, and Housing.
As a result of BBC’s Annual Plan to reduce 1,000 hours in content commission, BBC News will shut down the Our World program and make nine fewer hours of single documentaries each year for the BBC Two channel.
The flagship current affairs show Panorama, which airs on BBC One, will not have its broadcast hours affected by these new changes.