BBC News 24 increases lead over Sky


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BBC News 24 increases lead over Sky

BBC News 24 has continued to increase its lead over Sky News, with figures showing the licence-fee funded channel has opened up a 0.2% gap over its commercial rival.

The figures, from ratings body Barb, cover the first six months of the year. They show BBC News 24 has an average share in multichannel homes of 0.7% against Sky News' 0.51%.

This compares with a share of 0.6% for BBC News 24 and 0.5% for Sky News at the end of last year.

Even though the lead is small, the closely fought battle between the two channels - and the historical dominance of Sky News - means the figures are closely watched by both.

Sky News was hit in February when it moved off the Virgin Media cable platform - depriving it of 3.4 million potential viewers - although it has been trailing News 24 in the ratings since the end of 2005.

The channel is also due to be pulled off free-to-air Freeview soon, which will further dent its ratings.

In terms of reach - the number of people tuning in for three minutes or more a week - BBC News 24 has an audience of 6.4 million, compared with Sky News' 4.3 million.

Sky has said that because its channel is no longer on Virgin Media, overall multichannel figures are no longer comparable.

But it pointed out that Sky News was still ahead in Sky digital homes, with a share of 0.74% compared with BBC News 24's 0.58%.

In Sky digital homes, average weekly reach stood at 3 million for Sky News compared with 2.6 million for News 24.

"Sky News has never measured its success by ratings alone," a Sky News spokeswoman said.

"The definition of success for Sky News is to be the most widely respected and highly valued news service in the UK.

"This year Sky News received a record number of RTS award nominations and was named RTS news channel of the year."

BBC News also had a good six months across its other outlets, with its BBC1 One O'Clock News, Six O'Clock News and 10 O'Clock News bulletins all increasing their lead over their ITV1 rivals.

The 10 O'Clock News added 200,000 viewers since December 2006 to post an average rating of 4.8 million for the end of June compared with 2.4 million for ITV1's 10.30pm bulletin, which stayed steady.

BBC1's Six O'Clock News was up 100,000 viewers to 4.3 million compared with ITV1's 6.30pm news, stable at 3.9 million.

The battle of the lunchtime bulletins saw BBC1's One O'Clock News jump by 200,000 to 2.8 million compared with ITV1's stable 1 million for its 1.30pm show.

BBC Breakfast closed the traditional gap between it and GMTV, with the two ending the six-month period level pegging on an average of 1 million.

The one negative point for the BBC was in the battle of the more highbrow news bulletins, with Newsnight losing ground to the 7pm Channel 4 News.

BBC2's Newsnight, which airs at 10.30pm, lost 45,000 viewers to stand at an average of 817,000 at the end of June compared with Channel 4 News' 957,000, up 78,000.

The BBC head of television news, Peter Horrocks, said: "We are maintaining our traditional values of accuracy and authority, with an emphasis on original journalism and vivid story-telling.

"Audiences might have reason to question our competitors' commitment to news. Sky News is no longer valuable on cable and BSkyB want to take it off Freeview.

"ITV made the mistake of moving from News at Ten to 'news at when'. Audiences don't easily forget this lack of commitment to news.

"All this, taken together, means that for many audiences 'the news' now simply means BBC News."

Regards Satdude.