Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow has criticised the BBC’s coverage of international news in the UK and has argued for closer links between the corporation’s domestic and world news channels.
In a lecture to media students at the University of Coventry on Friday, the veteran broadcaster said he felt the BBC’s news operation was not adequately catering for a multicultural Britain with a strong appetite for foreign news.
He suggested that a solution would be for closer co-operation between the corporation’s international channel BBC World News and the domestic rolling news channel BBC News, creating “a very decent wall-to-wall international 24-hour station for people living in Britain”.
Snow said: “It may have passed them [the BBC] by, but Britain is becoming an increasingly multicultural, internationally looking country that is actually interested in the world.
“People choose what they feel comfortable with. This is a relationship with the viewer, and they have to be completely comfortable with you.”
Snow said he believed the impact of the economic downturn would be “very painful” and its true extent would be “much, much worse than 1929”, the year of the Wall Street crash.
But he said the economic downturn would see a rise in small, local community media, as people chose to live simpler, more interdependent lives.
“This is a really important moment because community media is going to matter incredibly,” he said. “Communications between small communities is going to matter very much.”
Snow said that a deal between Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide appeared to be “increasingly likely”, but he denied speculation that his employer was facing financial turmoil, claiming: “Channel 4 is in beautiful shape because it has £200m in the bank.”
A tie-up between C4 and another group – potentially BBC Worldwide – was one of the options proposed by media regulator Ofcom and Lord Carter’s Digital Britain report to address the issues facing public service broadcasting.
“There is no question that having a public service broadcasting system in this country means that the quality of all broadcasting is lifted,” Snow added.
“The competition is higher with fairly decent news output. In America, for example, broadcasting is in the most atrocious, comical condition – really pathetic and demeaning with superficial news.”