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February 7, 2022updated 30 Sep 2022 11:00am

‘Relaxed’ BBC Three two-minute news bulletins aim to ‘bring back’ TikTok generation

By Andrew Kersley

Newly relaunched TV channel BBC Three is running news bulletins mimicking the style of social media in an attempt to “bring back” 16 to 24-year-old viewers.

The Catch Up, a nightly two to four-minute news bulletin, is using its short length, graphics and explanatory news style to make broadcast news that is not only similar in style to social media content, but also optimised for later posting on social media.

BBC Three returned to screens on Tuesday after going digital-only in 2016. Since then it has produced several hit shows including Fleabag and Normal People, leading BBC leaders to reintroduce it as a broadcast channel with an increased £80m budget. BBC Three controller Fiona Campbell said it would provide a “destination for young audiences to discover more content on the BBC” and “entertain, inspire and challenge thinking”.

The channel’s news bulletins run at a different time each night based on the schedule – though often before the new channel’s main offerings – before being available on social media and iPlayer. On Wednesday, for example, it ran during half-time in the African Cup of Nations.

The show’s launch editor Amanda Goodman explained that The Catch Up exists for two reasons: the need to “bring back” ostracised young viewers to the BBC, as well as meet Ofcom’s requirement that BBC Three has a nightly weekday bulletin appealing to 16 to 34-year-olds.

Goodman, previously a BBC World News editor, told Press Gazette: “We know that young people want lots of visuals and graphics that mirror and reflect the kind of content they get on social media.

“We didn’t want someone that was reading the news or giving the news, but someone sharing stories in a very relaxed conversational way… we want to create relatable news for young people that doesn’t necessarily sound like the BBC, or the BBC they think exists at present.”

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She added: “It will also work well on Instagram, it will be great on YouTube – we don’t currently have a BBC TikTok account though… We want to be right there with people who are interested in light entertainment – pick up that audience bring them back to the BBC and have them for the future.”

While the BBC’s Instagram account has more than 20 million followers, making it the first news account in the world to top that milestone, the broadcaster recently told Press Gazette it didn’t have the resources or desire to start a BBC TikTok account – despite the app being one of the most popular worldwide.

Goodman added: “We know young people are interested in news and sharing and stories that matter because we know they do that on social media, so how do we bring them to the BBC?”

She explained that the new programme was based on months of audience testing and research trying to figure out what 16 to 24-year-olds would want in a news programme.

That testing led to the show’s explanatory format and short length as well as a focus on positive news stories, with a regular “ten seconds of” segment covering something positive or calming. Audience research also found people wanted presenters who weren’t the “traditional polished BBC reporter”.

The Catch Up currently has a small team consisting of one producer, one director and one presenter on each daily broadcast. All of their news content will be repurposed from other BBC reporting.

The three hosts for the new programme are Callum Tulley, Levi Jouavel and Kirsty Grant (pictured, left to right). Tulley, 25, previously worked as an undercover reporter for Panorama, while Grant, 23, and Jouavel, 21, both came through the BBC’s digital apprentice scheme and most recently worked for BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat.

In its previous incarnation, BBC Three’s news bulletins had just 60 seconds to sum up the day’s headlines.

Picture: BBC

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