U.K. Government to Scrap Weekend Coronavirus TV Briefings, Citing Low Ratings

Boris Johnson

The U.K government is to scrap its weekend press conferences on the coronavirus crisis, citing low TV ratings.

In a sign that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is winding down daily updates from No.10 Downing Street, they will now take place on weekdays only.

Johnson will lead the televised briefings at least once a week, and ministers and government medical and scientific advisers will still attend.

Asked to explain the change, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “It is just a fact that the numbers of people viewing at weekends do tend to be significantly lower.”

BBC One and the BBC News channel reportedly pulled in 2.1m viewers for Saturday’s briefing, while Sunday had 2.5m and Monday 2.8m.

The spokesman added: “We are absolutely committed to keeping people updated, we will be continuing to do this through regular press conferences, media interviews and parliamentary updates.”

The daily No.10 briefings have become a regular fixture in the U.K.’s response to the pandemic, with members of the public allowed daily questions as well as journalists.

Some Sunday briefings have proved popular and when Johnson made his address to the nation on his easing of lockdown last month, more than  27.5 million people tuned in, making it one of the most-watched television broadcasts in British history.

The move comes as the U.K. begins to ease its coronavirus lockdown, amid falling numbers of infections and deaths. Schools have reopened to some pupils, while groups of up to six people can now meet outside in England.