I was going to put this point in my last post, only for you to make me bring it up.
News24 does not get an average of 6 million a day.
The BBC were stopped by the government watchdog from trying to inflate their viewing figures in this way.
The BBC took their viewing figures when News24 was shown on on BBC Two in the mornings for Weekend 24, hence upping its potential audience by millions.
When audience figures are taken in cable homes Sky News gets a higher viewing figure, despite the fact it is available in less of them, and in DSAT homes Sky also gets higher viewing figures.
Here is an extract from a government report to settle this:
This is from the House of Commons website and is the report into News24 conducted by the DEPT for Culture Media and Sport....
The ITC does not measure viewing of any News 24 programming simulcast on BBC1 or BBC2 as attributable to the news channel, as this would result in the same time period being double-counted. In BSkyB's view, this is the correct approach. Otherwise, universally available analogue terrestrial broadcasters could simulcast any number of low-audience satellite or cable channels (eg Live TV, also measured as 0.1 per cent by the ITC before the channel's recent demise) and artificially bump up the reach and share for such channels. However, that would not be indicative of viewing in multi-channel television homes or the viability of these as individual digital channels.
2. SKY NEWS/BBC NEWS 24 VIEWING SHARE IN CABLE HOMES ONLY
In cable homes, Sky News consistently outperforms BBC News 24
it is important to note that the share figures reflect total BBC News 24 viewing in the 96 per cent of cable homes where it is available, compared to viewing of Sky News which is only available in 76 per cent of cable homes. In homes that receive both services, Sky News' share is (and always has been) higher than BBC News 24.
3. SKY NEWS/BBC NEWS 24 REACH IN CABLE HOMES
In additional written evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee circulated at the 25 November 1999 session, the BBC gave figures on '15 minute reach' and '3 minute reach' of BBC News 24 and Sky News for the month of September 1999. These figures indicated that during the month of September, 3.2 million individuals tuned into BBC News 24 for at least 15 minutes (compared to 2.1 million for Sky News), and 5.4 million individuals tuned into BBC News 24 for at least three minutes (compared to 3.8 million for Sky News).
It appears to BSkyB that the BBC's figures were actually for the average weekly reach in the month rather than the total monthly reach. But in any event the BBC's figures aggregated the analogue cable audience for BBC News 24 with those viewing the overnight and weekend simulcasts of BBC News 24 on BBC1 and BBC2 (universally available analogue terrestrial networks). This was then compared to the more limited availability of Sky News in analogue cable and satellite homes. BSkyB does not accept these as valid comparisons.
The closest like-for-like comparison is to examine Sky News and BBC News 24 in cable homes only (despite BBC News 24's availability in 96 per cent of cable homes v 76 per cent for Sky News).
The 15 minute reach and 3 minute reach for each of the channels for the most recent three months are as follows:
— Monthly 15 minute reach, in cable homes:
Sky News BBC News 24
August 1.7m 1.2m
September 2.2m 1.1m
October 2.6m 1.4m
Sky News was available in approximately 97 per cent of cable homes until displaced following the free wholesale supply of BBC News 24 to cable operators
The Panel's recommendations for additional funding fail to take into account the adverse effects that new licence fee funded services can create. The introduction of Sky News, for example, increased plurality in British broadcasting by offering a third and impartial source of domestic television news. However, Sky News has been displaced by BBC News 24 in many cable homes not because the BBC service is better, but because it is being wholesaled free to cable operators using public funding. When licence fee funding is used unfairly to crowd out competing services and create barriers to potential new entrants, 'diversity of voice' is reduced. The ability of the BBC to use additional public funding to launch services in many other areas risks undermining confidence and the willingness to invest by other market players.
5. The Culture Media and Sport Select Committee previously stated its desire for the Government's funding review 'to examine the scope for the commercial development of News 24 in a fair market'. However, this was not addressed in the review. A solution that would eliminate competitive distortions and generate further revenues for the BBC is for the Corporation to transfer BBC News 24 to its commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, where it would charge for cable carriage and generate additional revenue from subscriptions and/or advertising if appropriate.
6. BBC News 24 should also be removed from the BBC's public service arm because it fails to conform to the Corporation's own commitment to fulfil the following specific criteria before using licence fee payers' money: BBC News 24 was launched into a commercial market already providing services of equivalent 'range and quality'; it is not, and will not within any reasonable period of time, be 'accessible to all'; it does not demonstrate an 'appeal to audiences such as to justify funding'; and whether it is 'affordable to the BBC against other priorities' has been questioned by many.
In previous Reports we have carefully considered whether News 24 represented value for money for the licence fee payer. Upwards of £140 million has been spent on the service since its launch. In 1999-2000, expenditure on News 24 amounted to £50 million. The BBC stressed that this was the total cost for News 24 both as a separate channel and as a service provided on BBC One and BBC Two at certain times. Mr Dyke referred to planned expenditure of around £52 million or £53 million a year, but did not expect the budget to increase beyond that level. He said that the marginal cost of News 24 was around £35 million a year; the remaining expenditure represented News 24's contribution to the BBC's global news-gathering operation and would not be saved if News 24 were to be scrapped.
18. In its Annual Report, the BBC describes News 24 as 'the most-watched UK news channel'. It claims that News 24 'is now watched by more than six million people every week' compared with '3.6 million for the only other UK round-the-clock news provider'—a somewhat coy reference to Sky News. However, to employ one of Sir Christopher Bland's own analogies, this is to compare an apple and an orange. Sky News is only available as a channel in multi-channel households. In addition to availability as a channel, News 24 is available as a service on BBC One overnight and on BBC Two on Saturday mornings. The claim for an audience of 6.1 million is based on combining the audience for overnight news output on BBC One and morning output on BBC Two—channels that are universally available—with the audience for News 24 as a channel. When we raised this point with Sir Christopher Bland, he suggested it was 'a semantic matter'. We disagree
***We consider that the BBC's attempts to conflate viewing figures from News 24 as a channel and those for News 24 as a service on other channels—namely BBC One and BBC Two—are misguided and misleading. We recommend that BBC Annual Reports distinguish clearly between the audience for News 24 as a channel in multi-channel households and the audience for News 24 services broadcast on BBC One and BBC Two and cease to combine audience figures for News 24 as a channel and News 24 as a service on other channels.***
The BBC claimed that, in digital homes, in the four weeks to 11 June 2000, News 24 as a channel had an audience share of 0.3 per cent and a 'reach' of 7 per cent, where 'reach' is defined as the percentage of the digital audience which chooses to watch the channel for more than three minutes a week. According to the BBC, by way of comparison, Sky News had a 0.5 per cent share and an 11 per cent reach. BSkyB have subsequently challenged these claims, suggesting that the audience shares for the four weeks ending 11 June were 0.24 per cent for News 24 and 0.53 for Sky News and that, during the longer period of 3 January to 11 June 2000, the respective shares in digital satellite homes were 0.17 per cent and 0.51 per cent. Sir Christopher Bland did not dispute that, in digital homes, News 24 continues to have a lower share and a lower reach than Sky News. Subsequent figures provided by the BBC indicated that the shares for News 24 and Sky News in cable homes in May 2000 were 0.5 per cent and 0.7 per cent respectively.
20. The BBC is confident that it will eventually see a return on its large investment in News 24. Mr Dyke acknowledged that 'some mistakes' had been made in presentation on the channel in its early phase, although he considered that it had 'improved considerably' since its 're-launch' last year so that he was now 'quite happy with the quality and range of News 24'. He thought that News 24 reflected 'the way that people are going to receive news in the future'. Sir Christopher Bland saw it as 'a really good service' that was 'getting better by the minute'. The channel will provide extended coverage of the next General Election and Sir Christopher Bland thought that General Election coverage 'could be as powerful a driver for people to watch News 24 as the Gulf War was to CNN'. He considered the channel to be of 'long-term strategic importance' for the BBC and an investment the wisdom of which would become self-evident. On the other hand,
***Sir Christopher Bland appeared to be offering a static prospect for News 24 as it now exists, whereas rival news providers, including ITN and BSkyB, are already providing interactive services which offer a better service than BBC News 24. With these choices available to digital subscribers, we are therefore sceptical of the value of News 24 in relation to what the BBC says it costs***
Phew.... you've got to the end!