Channel 5 gains regulatory greenlight for new news format | Major Businesses | Business | News | Rapid TV News
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The UK’s fifth largest broadcaster Channel 5 is celebrating gaining approval from UK broadcast regulator Ofcom for a request to change the conditions of its licence relating to its news provision to launch an hour-long news programme at 17:00.
Channel 5 News 26Sep2021
The broadcaster says that the launch is part of a plan to serve better hard-to-reach audiences, adding breadth and depth to its news coverage. Following a consultation, Ofcom considered a range of views submitted by stakeholders and concluded that the changes will continue to meet the objectives for news and current affairs programming requirements set out in the Communications Act 2003.

The decision recognised the overall benefit that the change will have on public service broadcasters’ (PSB) news delivery, particularly for the high proportion of harder-to-reach audiences who already tune in for Channel 5’s 1700 bulletin.

The change to the licence condition will not affect the total amount of news that Channel 5 is required to broadcast each year. Under the terms of the new licence, Channel 5 will maintain its existing commitment to deliver a minimum of 280 hours of news each calendar year. The introduction of an hour-long programme on weekdays will create an uninterrupted three-hour window of PSB news broadcasting starting with 5 News in early-evening and ending with Channel 4 News which runs till 2000. Channel 5’s commitment for an early evening programme on Saturdays and Sundays remains unchanged.

The new hour-long 5 News programme at 1700 will replace the two existing 30-minute broadcasts, at 1700 and 1830, in Channel 5’s early evening schedule. This said Chanel 5 would enable the programme to examine and unpack stories in greater detail and create space for more investigative, regional and social affairs reporting, as well as coverage of international matters.

Moreover, the broadcaster said the change to Channel 5’s licence conditions reflected the popularity of 5 News’ early-evening news programming with women, younger audiences and viewers from a range of socio-economic backgrounds. Channel 5 released viewing figures from September 2021 showing that 5 News has been watched by more than 44% of the TV viewing population so far this year, with programme audiences skewing younger than ITV’s and BBC One’s early evening news programmes. Channel 5 says that compared with all other early evening news programmes, its existing 1700 bulletin attracts a higher proportion of women (60%) and viewers from DE socioeconomic groups (39%).

Channel 5 parent ViacomCBS said Ofcom’s decision acknowledged that audiences have been affected by changes in working and commuting patterns resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. “As the rest of Channel 5 has been transformed by increased UK investment, we feel it is important that our news offering reflects the expectations of viewers we have attracted to the channel over the past few years,” said ViacomCBS chief content officer Ben Frow. “Today’s announcement by Ofcom will allow us to expand the provision of high-quality impartial news which is increasingly important to UK audiences.”

"Ofcom recognises the value of trusted, regulated news services to viewers and we welcome this opportunity to expand our programme to a full hour to offer even greater depth and insight into the topics we know our audiences care about,” added 5 News editor Cait FitzSimons. “We have some exciting ideas that we are currently developing and look forward to the launch in the coming weeks."