BBC News and Current Affairs (sometimes abbreviated BBC NCA) is a major arm of the BBC responsible for the corporation's news gathering and production of news programmes on BBC television, radio and online.
BBC News carries out a key objective of the BBC's Royal Charter, to "collect news and information in any part of the world and in any manner that may be thought fit".
BBC News is based at the News Centre at Television Centre (TVC) but operates regional centres across the UK and bureaux around the world. Political coverage is based at Millbank Studios in Westminster. The News Centre brought radio and TV news operations together for the first time and produces almost 100 hours of output every day.
BBC News claims the BBC's output is widely respected across the world. Within the UK BBC News faces stiff competition from Sky News and ITN however research has shown that viewers turn to the BBC for coverage of major events, e.g. Iraq war, September 11th attacks.
The distinctive music of BBC News introduced in 1999 was composed by David Lowe. With the common visual branding of BBC Television News which commenced in 1999 variations of this theme extended from its original use on BBC One and BBC Two to News 24, BBC World and local news in BBC nations and regions. Lowe was also responsible for the music on Radio One's "Newsbeat". The total cost of BBC News is £350 million per year
BBC Television News is responsible for network news bulletins on BBC One and BBC Two, news output on BBC Three and BBC Four and the news networks BBC News 24, and BBC Parliament. BBC News also provides news on Ceefax.
BBC News also provides 17 hours of programming each day for the international news channel BBC World
BBC Radio News produces bulletins for BBC national radio and provides content for local BBC radio stations via the General News Service (GNS). BBC News does not produce the BBC's regional news bulletins, these are produced by the BBC nations and regions.
BBC News Online is the BBC's news website. Launched in November 1997, it is one of the most popular news websites in the UK with around 15 million visitors every month. The website contains exhaustive international news coverage, as well as entertainment, science, and political news. Many reports are accompanied by audio and video from the BBC's television and radio news services. The latest TV and radio bulletins are also available on the site.
A relaunch of BBC television news output in 1993 saw the abolition of the large variation in sets, titles and music in favour of a single set with a common theme. The new set was a small one which took advantage of Silicon Graphics systems to create a virtual studio which appeared to be huge. The titles commenced with the BBC News logo imposed on a spinning globe, this shot then widened to reveal a glass sculpture of the BBC crest (again computer generated) in front of a panoramic view of the studio. The colour of the sets varied, getting progressively darker throughout the day. Likewise the style of the theme changed; from a bright and driving theme for Breakfast News to an authoritive and more sombre version for the Nine O'Clock News. In 1997 the programmes were altered to incorporate the new corporate logo and in 1999 all BBC News output was relaunched, with BBC World, BBC News 24 and network news adopting a common style. Perhaps most significantly BBC regional news programmes adopted the new corporate image for the first time, giving a common style across local, national and international BBC television news.
In 1998 most of BBC Radio News joined BBC Television News at TVC in the new "News Centre" complex at the front of the building. In 2008 all BBC News, national radio and BBC World Service broadcasts will be moved to Broadcasting House in central London. The building is planned to have the largest live newsroom in the world.
The then British Broadcasting Company broadcast its first radio bulletin on November 14 1922. On July 5 2004 the BBC celebrated 50 years of television news, the first bulletin was broadcast on that day in 1954.
BBC News was at the centre of one the largest political controversies in recent years. Three BBC News reports (Andrew Gilligan's on Today, Gavin Hewitt's on The Ten O'Clock News and another on Newsnight) quoted an anonymous source that stated the British government (partiularly the Prime Minister's office) had embellished the dossier with misleading exaggerations of Iraq's WMD capabilities.
The Government angrily denounced the reports and accused the corporation of poor journalism. In subsequent weeks the corporation stood by the report, saying that it had a reliable source. Following intense media speculation, Dr. David Kelly was finally named in the press as the source for Gilligan's story on July 9. Kelly committed suicide in a field close to his home on July 17 (although this will not be officially confirmed until a coroner's report is released). An inquiry lead by Lord Hutton was announced by the British government the following day. The inquiry was to investigate whether the Government had indeed "sexed-up" the report or, if not, uncover why it had been claimed that it did.
Aftermath of Hutton report
When reporting on January 28 2004, Hutton concluded that Gilligan's original accusation was "unfounded" and the BBC's editorial and management processes were "defective". In particular, it specifically criticised the chain of management that caused the BBC to defend its story. The BBC Director of News, Richard Sambrook, the report said, had accepted Gilligan's word that his story was accurate, rather than check Gilligan's records more thoroughly.
Davies had then told the BBC Board of Governors that he was happy with the story, and told the Prime Minister that a satisfactory internal inquiry had taken place. The Board of Governors, under BBC Chairman Gavyn Davies' guidance, accepted that further investigation of the Government's complaints were unnecessary.
Due to the level of criticism of the corporation in the Hutton report Davies resigned on the day of publication. BBC News faced an important test, reporting on itself with the publication of the report, but by common consent managed this both independently and impartially. Davies was followed by Director General Greg Dyke the following day and Gilligan on January 30. While doubtless a traumatic experience for the corporation, an ICM poll in April 2003 indicated that it had sustained its position as the best and most trusted provider of news.
List of selected current and former BBC News readers and reporters