Will the internet kill off the traditional television news bulletin?

The internet is quickly killing off the traditional format of newspapers. Many analysts predict that the death of the traditional newspaper package is imminent.

In a lecture last term, Professor Roy Greenslade asked a room full of City journalism students if they buy newspapers regularly. The majority said no. It is indisputable that newspapers are becoming economically unsustainable in their traditional format. Readers don’t need to sit down with a whole paper when they can get up-to-date snippets and choose the articles they want on their computers or mobile phones. The internet is sapping the life out of newspapers as we have known them.

But while people may give up on buying and consuming newspapers, what will become of the traditional news bulletin package? Every national newspaper and all broadcasters offer videos on their website and they are increasingly popular. In addition, most broadcasters have YouTube or Vimeo channels as well.

Obviously, with the introduction of YouTube and online catch-up services, the internet is cutting into TV viewing figures and changing the way we consume videos. Even back in 2006, online video was said to be ‘eroding TV viewing’.

But does this mean that people will prefer to watch two-minute news reports on websites as and when they please, instead of sitting in front of the TV for a half hour news bulletin?

Here’s what some fellow television students had to say about it…

Recent figures suggest that viewers will not desert the traditional TV bulletin. Viewing figures are at record levels.  Last year BARB’s figures showed that, on average, television viewers watched well over 4 hours of television a day. The BBC’s 6 and 10 O’Clock News (the most watched bulletins) continue to regularly notch up over 5 million viewers a day.  ITV’s figures are not dissimilar.

So, it certainly seems unlikely that the internet will cut television news viewing figures any time soon. In fact, it will probably facilitate an increase news bulletin viewing figures. This year will see the introduction of the YouView project, which will allow viewers to watch television through an internet-connected platform. Al-Jazeera, BBC, Sky, CNN and many other broadcasters already offer a live internet streaming service for their news channels.

In the 24-hour news environment, where covering the latest development has become the priority, television news bulletins hold one fundamental advantage over their newspaper counterparts: they are broadcast live. Presenters, reporters and editors have always been able to update scripts and reports right up to the last minute. They can even bring live updates during the programme. Restricted by its print deadlines, the traditional newspaper format can never compete with such immediacy.

It seems inevitable that the traditional, printed newspaper format will soon become extinct, courtesy of the internet. But television broadcasters needn’t see the web as a threat to the traditional news bulletin. Instead, they should continue to embrace it as a way of increasing viewing figures and interactivity.

Will Teddy

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