More than half of Press Gazette readers believe the BBC has been the best TV broadcaster for coverage of the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis so far.
Over the past week, 1,251 responses have been lodged to the question: “Which TV channel is providing best coverage of the Covid-19 crisis?”
Some 471 voters (38 per cent) praised BBC One where the broadcaster’s flagship 1pm, 6pm and 10pm news bulletins are aired.
Another 246 (20 per cent) voted for the BBC News Channel, taking the broadcaster to 58 per cent of the total overall.
Next in the polls were Sky News with 225 votes (18 per cent), and Channel 4 with 132 votes (11 per cent).
The BBC has introduced a simplified schedule across BBC One, Two and News channels.
Newsnight and The Andrew Marr Show are now using the same studio as BBC News at Ten with fewer technical staff.
The BBC News Channel and BBC World News are broadcasting joint news bulletins at weekends and for some parts of the weekdays, and regional bulletins during the BBC One Breakfast have been temporarily stopped.
A core News Channel service has also replaced programming such as the Victoria Derbyshire Show and Politics Live, whose hosts are now involved in the output in different ways.
In a letter to readers and viewers, head of Sky News John Ryley explained the channel’s plans to cover the pandemic in line with its “serious and deeply-felt obligation to document how this crisis is affecting the people of the United Kingdom and the rest of the world”.
Ryley said only essential staff members whose work cannot be done remotely are now travelling into Sky’s newsrooms, with “scores” of journalists reporting from home.
He pledged to bring live news as it happens around the world, including live coverage of the Prime Minister’s daily press conference, analysis from a team of specialist editors, insightful science and technology reporting, information on the economic cost of the virus from Sky’s business journalists, and facts and figures from a team of data journalists.
He also promised to put people’s stories “at the heart of everything we do”, get viewers’ questions answered by experts, and “remain upbeat” with stories of hope and optimism.
“Over the coming weeks and months we promise to work tirelessly to bring you clarity in this uncertain world,” Ryley said.
Meanwhile Channel 4 News has extended from its normal 60-minute bulletin to 90 minutes on Mondays and Thursdays.
Channel 5 and ITN, which produces news programming for the channel, have jointly decided to temporarily suspend the 6.30pm weekday bulletin from next Monday so the teams can focus on the flagship 5pm slot.
The move has been approved by Ofcom and will be regularly reviewed.
An ITN spokesperson said: “The difficult decision was taken as a result of the impact of Covid-19 on programming and operational capability and is primarily aimed at protecting a small and dedicated team at a time when staff numbers have inevitably been affected.”
The audience for last Monday’s 5pm Channel 5 News bulletin was up 33 per cent to 400,000 viewers. The channel also broadcasts brief news updates at 12.10pm, 7.55pm and 8.58pm daily.
Methodology: This poll was an indicative survey of Press Gazette readers which ran on the site from Tuesday 24 March to Monday 30 March 2020. It used cookie-based tracking to stop readers from voting twice. Press Gazette’s readers are predominantly journalists and others who work in the news industry.
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