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WW Update4,785 posts since 6 Feb 2007
We surely have to surmise that, given Sky News hasn't managed to turn a profit for 30 years, perhaps we just don't have the market for high quality commercial news in the UK?

No no no, it works in the US so it MUST work here, we’re just not doing it properly apparently.


Funny, I always thought Paris was in France.
WW Update4,785 posts since 6 Feb 2007
Sky News has never turned a profit because it was never designed or intended to be a profitable part of the Sky business.

It's value to Sky (and by extension Uncle Rupert) was influence and credibility, especially in 1989 when Sky was not to be taken seriously. We've always known that this was the model so to play Sky News as the card to say that in the UK news can't be profitable is disingenuous.

News channels can and are managing to be successful all over Europe and beyond. Still, in 2019. In many territories, so are local channels.

Spain has its autonomous region channels (govt funded), and it's local channels (private), France has BFM TV Paris. Canada has City. There are examples too in Russia, Asia.

Yes, there's American local TV too - but I'll try to avoid mentioning them as for some reason it seems to make some quite defensive, competitive and borderline irrational. Never really understood why.

The thing that's key though it that people won't watch crap that has no relevance to them. This is the problem with most of our local TV.... It's utter crap, trivial to the point of irrelevant and nobody is interested. There is still a strong appetite for local news, however.


This is the best assessment of this topic so far. Sky News proves that, in most cases, a news channel can be run either as a loss-making prestige "public service" operation to impress the regulators and the political/cultural elites, or as a profitable commercial venture -- but not both.

The part in bold also puzzles me immensely.
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Whataday10,057 posts since 13 Sep 2001
HTV Wales Wales Today
Again - Sky News was never run with the intention of making a profit. It is not a commercial failure because it was never run on a commercial basis.... as well you know.


I'm baffled as to how you think this helps your point. If Sky chose to spend money on the operation expecting to make a loss, that still supports the argument about how difficult it is to make money out of news in such a small market, even with significant investment and widespread carriage.

I actually think ITV regional news could be profitable if the network that produces it were a) interested in it and b) used it to its potential.


The idea that ITV cut back on regional news just because it couldn't be bothered is laughable. They clearly saw a decline in advertising revenue and had to diversify in order to survive. If there were any chance in increasing profit in local news, they would be the first to jump on it.
WW Update4,785 posts since 6 Feb 2007
I'm baffled as to how you think this helps your point. If Sky chose to spend money on the operation expecting to make a loss, that still supports the argument about how difficult it is to make money out of news in such a small market, even with significant investment and widespread carriage.


Especially in recent years, Sky News has been run almost like a public service operation; just contrast it with a populist, fast-paced, personalized approach of the wildly successful BFM TV in France (or for that matter, LBC radio in the UK). Sky News approach in perfectly acceptable for a public service operation such as the BBC News Channel, but it doesn't really suit a purely commercial operation. It's as if a mass-market, popular newspaper tried to look like the Financial Times.
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WW Update4,785 posts since 6 Feb 2007
Here's an hour-long fragment of BFM TV (the national operation). Note how much more dynamic, casual, and just plain interesting to watch it is than Sky News' current format -- and it's a success:

Last edited by WW Update on 13 February 2019 5:57pm - 2 times in total
Whataday10,057 posts since 13 Sep 2001
HTV Wales Wales Today
BFMTV is not without its critics. It is widely seen as the Fox News of France, and while that has proved popular, I'm not sure such an operation would get away unscathed from the regulator in the UK. Indeed the French regulator has found the channel to over-represent the FN.

In which case, perhaps over-regulation is a reason a commercial news operation hasn't proved viable in the UK?
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WW Update4,785 posts since 6 Feb 2007
BFMTV is not without its critics. It is widely seen as the Fox News of France, and while that has proved popular, I'm not sure such an operation would get away unscathed from the regulator in the UK. Indeed the French regulator has found the channel to over-represent the FN.

In which case, perhaps over-regulation is a reason a commercial news operation hasn't proved viable in the UK?


Perhaps, but then again, LBC operates in the same regulatory environment, and that doesn't stop it from having quite outspoken guests and hosts -- and Ofcom appears to be fine with that, as long as LBC's overall output is broadly balanced.

In any case, a channel's format can be separated from its political biases.
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lhx1985229 posts since 23 Apr 2015
Yorkshire Look North (Yorkshire)
Yes, LBC has taken the route of balancing its schedule, rather than each and every minute of output. Ofcom has made Global 'attend meetings' with them, but they're not getting found in breach of the Broadcasting Code left, right and centre, so they must know what they're doing.

I don't really see any problem with is so long as you maintain 'separation of church and state' - ie don't fall into the trap of portraying opinion as fact or editorialising your news output.

If it draws in the punters (eyes and ads) and your Ofcom compliant, what's the problem?

I don't speak French, so I can't really comment on the output of BFM TV or its local station. But it's local, providing information to viewers and it's a commercial business. I take my hat off to them for cracking this particular nut.
London Lite10,587 posts since 4 Jan 2003
London London
Briefly returning to Paris. The Île-de-France region not only has BFM Paris, it has IDF1, a broader general entertainment channel with some home produced lifestyle shows and imports that isn't completely Paris centric.

One of the reason Paris works in comparison to London is that with BFM Paris, all of the news commitments are with them, leaving IDF1 (who do provide a weather forecast) to concentrate on providing entertainment.
Brekkie31,822 posts since 4 Jan 2003 Recently warned
HTV Wales Wales Today
Yes, LBC has taken the route of balancing its schedule, rather than each and every minute of output. Ofcom has made Global 'attend meetings' with them, but they're not getting found in breach of the Broadcasting Code left, right and centre, so they must know what they're doing.

I don't really see any problem with is so long as you maintain 'separation of church and state' - ie don't fall into the trap of portraying opinion as fact or editorialising your news output.


Easier to get away with it on radio were the audience expect more opinion than purely factual content.
I preferred the internet when it had a sense of humour.
Markymark6,978 posts since 13 Dec 2004
Meridian (North) South Today
Yes, LBC has taken the route of balancing its schedule, rather than each and every minute of output. Ofcom has made Global 'attend meetings' with them, but they're not getting found in breach of the Broadcasting Code left, right and centre, so they must know what they're doing.

I don't really see any problem with is so long as you maintain 'separation of church and state' - ie don't fall into the trap of portraying opinion as fact or editorialising your news output.


Easier to get away with it on radio were the audience expect more opinion than purely factual content.


That's only because that's what they've come to expect. It would be very interesting to have a TV station on the same model as LBC. C4 sort of started life like that in 1982, but it was all a bit too radical for the IBA and establishment back then. It's certainly a shadow of its former self today !
CrispyPotato92 posts since 22 Sep 2012
BBC World News
That's TV appear to have changed some station names on their main website (but not on the actual station websites nor, presumably, on-air).

We now have:

That's East Anglia (Norfolk)
That's West Anglia (Cambridge)
That's South Wales (Swansea Bay)
That's Southern (Salisbury)
That's South Midlands (Oxfordshire)

The homepage is still promoting their 'Local News & Classic Television' despite the former being debatable and the latter now being replaced with teleshopping.