Bad news at News 24

Report questions need for BBC's service

LONDON — A government report has lambasted rolling news service BBC News 24 for not being sufficiently distinctive from other 24-hour services such as Sky News.

Report, produced by former Financial Times editor Richard Lambert, accuses News 24 of lagging behind Sky on sports, entertainment and breaking news.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said the BBC governors need to devise clearer goals for News 24 and that public service channels must be distinctive from commercial webs in order to justify the use of the license fee.

So far, the BBC has plowed a total of £300 million ($468 million) into the channel since its launch in November 1997. While Lambert criticizes the amount invested, he believes that News 24 is justified in order to ensure that the BBC remains a substantial news org.

“Although the financial costs have by any standards been very high, the arrival of News 24 has substantially increased the BBC’s overall editorial resources,” Lambert said.

Commenting on the report, BBC News director Richard Sambrook said: “We are very pleased by Richard Lambert’s support for News 24 and we welcome his suggestions for improvement. We believe the channel still has great potential for growth and innovation and it has always been our ambition to develop the channel further to meet the audience need for BBC News around the clock.”

The BBC must respond to Lambert’s report by the end of February and publish a revised remit for News 24 by the end of April.

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