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BBC News celebrates 60 years of TV broadcast

MUMBAI: BBC Television News turned 60 at 7:30 pm on 5 July.

Over the past six decades, BBC Television News has reported on all the landmark news stories and pivotal moments from the first man on the moon, Churchill’s resignation, the assassination of John F Kennedy and Watergate to famine in Ethiopia, Vietnam, the war in Iraq and the global financial crisis. It has been there for moments of great historical change such as the Fall of Communism and the end of apartheid, as well as huge news events including the Boxing Day tsunami, 9/11, 7/7, the 2012 Olympics and the deaths of Princess Diana, Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela.

Today BBC News reaches 81 per cent of the UK each week across all platforms. Overall, BBC TV News accounts for 73 per cent of TV news consumption but produces just 25 per cent. Earlier this year, the BBC had announced its intention to define the fourth revolution in News – the age of interactivity – to enhance TV news coverage.

The BBC Newsroom head Mary Hockaday said, “Over the last 60 years, we’ve produced first-class television journalism covering what matters from the communities where we live to the furthest corners of the Earth. We’ve come a long way from that initial 22-minute broadcast, from black and white to colour and HD and beyond. As we look ahead to the next era we see how technology is transforming the way we gather and communicate the news, enabling us to engage with our audiences more than ever on many platforms.

“Our mission now is to help shape the future of news, using the new digital technology alongside the power of television to ensure our coverage reaches everyone, wherever they are and however they want it. But one thing hasn’t changed – great journalists, powerful pictures and coverage of the stories which bring the nation together.”

Presenters and reporters have become familiar faces on BBC Television News over the years including Richard Baker, Kenneth Kendall, Angela Rippon, Jan Leeming, Moira Stuart, Sue Lawley, Debbie Thrower, Robert Dougall, Michael Aspel, John Humphrys and Michael Buerk.

The roll call continues up to the present date with Huw Edwards, Fiona Bruce, Sophie Raworth, George Alagiah, John Simpson, Robert Peston, Carrie Gracie, Nick Robinson, Nicholas Witchell, Jeremy Bowen and Kamal Ahmed to name a few.

The broadcasting landscape in 1954 consisted solely of BBC One, and programming started at varying times in the afternoon apart from the occasional special broadcast in the morning.

The first ever TV news bulletin on 5 July 1954 transmitted at 7:30 pm after the cricket and before The Royals – a visit to the Royal Agricultural Show, Windsor. The 22-minute programme started with an announcement by Richard Baker. Newsreader John Snagge then read the news starting with the first report on truce talks in Indo-China. Baker did not appear in vision as at that time presenters did not appear on screen. Kenneth Kendall was the first presenter to do so in 1955.

Other items on the running order that day included French security measures in Tunisia; the resumption of the Petrov Enquiry; and the end of rationing. The news agenda also featured items on Question Time in Parliament; a Princess Margaret visit to Lancashire; the departure of the Swedish King and Queen after a Royal visit; the United Nations Assembly President in London; and mine workers in conference at Blackpool.

The newsroom’s television output reaches more than 32 million UK adults every week and is responsible for output such as the BBC One bulletins, BBC News Channel, BBC World News and BBC Breakfast. Television News comes under the umbrella of BBC News – which is the largest broadcast news operation in the world and has more than 5,000 journalists serving audiences in the UK and globally on television, radio and online, and a network of journalists around the UK and bureaux across the world. The division consists of BBC News, English Regions and the BBC’s Global News divisions.