tv The Media Show BBC News August 7, 2021 8:30am-9:01am BST
the south—west city of zaranj — the first provincial capital to fall to the militants for five years. during a un emergency meeting to discuss the worsening violence, its envoy to the region demanded the militants end their offensive. the greek government has put almost half of the country's regions on high alert as wildfires continue to spread. huge clouds of smoke are billowing over the outskirts of athens. a man's been killed in a village north of the city after being hit by a falling electricity pole. the penultimate day of action at the olympics is underway in tokyo. there has been another gold medal for team gb in the flyweight boxing. in the solo ten metre diving britain �*s tom daley took the bronze.
now on bbc news, the media show. hello. no, don't adjust your set — this is the media show on the bbc. but that theme tune to news at 10 and the famous bongs are part of our popular culture, along with the high angle sweep across london over the rooftops along the thames to meet the face of big ben. all that is part of the iconography of british television news, but who watches the big network bulletins these days? more and more gen z—ers and millennials are increasingly moving online to get their news and information. some older demographics, too, are attracted to more partisan, opinionated platforms. gb news, i'm looking at you. even some politicians are openly
disparaging of what they call the mainstream media. so, how can itv�*s news at 10 and channel 4 news, with a soon—to—be—departing john snow, win audiences back? is it a lost cause in this fractured multimedia age in which we live, or can trust be regained? well, if anyone�*s got an idea, it'd better be my next guest — deborah turness, the boss of itn, overseeing news on itv, channel 4 and channel 5, reaching around 10 million people a day and, on top of all that, having to deal with a financial black hole that would give anyone nightmares. deborah turness, welcome to the media show. it's good to be here. thank you very much for inviting me to be on your show. let's begin with a quickfire round. where do you get your evening news? what do you watch? i watch, of course, the output of my own platforms because that's, of course, a critical part of myjob and i always did anyway. so, i watch itv news, i watch news at 10 probably a bit
more than evening news because i'm often still working for the evening news. i'll catch up on the itv hub for that. i watch channel 4 news, i watch channel 5 news, i also look at bbc news at 10 as well, and the next day, i will check in on the american bulletins as well because it's just a habit i've had over the last decade and it's hard to reel yourself away from it. you've got an impressive cv — the first woman editor of a network tv news show in the uk when you took the reins at itv news. you then moved to america to head up nbc news, and later become president of nbc, one of america's big three networks. what made you want to get into journalism in the first place? you know, when i was about 15, i started volunteering on a local newspaper site that was looking for a reporter in local schools to talk about what was going on in the school. it was the hitching and stevenage gazette, and i started really enjoying it. and then, i went from there to start doing local music reviews of a local
music venue that often attracted some quite good bands, and realised i could get good access behind the scenes and start doing exciting things, even at the age of 16, i7. by the time i was at college, i started making plans to launch a student radio station. i did some articles for the london student newspaper, and itjust grew from there, really. then i was given the opportunity for my year abroad, because i did part of my degree in french, to go and do a postgrad journalism course at bordeaux university. and i spent a year there, and i was completely smitten and i was completely focused on that as my career path. and from there, i was able to do my work experience, not for the french media, but i went to itn and worked for nothing in the paris bureau, as then was. and that was my kind of side door way into itn. yeah, you helped john snow,
i understand, cover a french presidential election. i did, you're very well informed. it was one of those moments, it was a sliding door moment. i was kind of working for nothing, making the tea, etc, and thenjohn snow's producer fell ill and he needed somebody to go to the south of france — we were in paris at the time — to go and cover jacques chirac�*s rally. it was the eve of the election, and he was the prime minister and he was standing to be president against francois mitterrand, and he'd just released the french hostages from beirut that day. he'd used his power as prime minister to potentially persuade the french electorate to vote for him. these french hostages were national celebrities and they'd been incarcerated in beirut for a very long time. national news bulletins every night started with their faces and the number of days that they have been incarcerated.
and i went down to the south of france to meet up with the crew. i was 21 at the time, 22, and managed to get an exclusive interview with jacques chirac in english. john snow made it his lead story, and he pledged to support me and help me get into itn, so he did. ok, so from blocking off corridors and getting exclusive interviews with french leading politicians, you worked your way up to become head of itv news in 200a. how different was the itv newsroom then, do you think, compared to now? that's a really great question. i think what's wonderful about the itv newsroom is that it continues to be a place of absolute commitment to finding out the truth, to digging up stories that others aren't digging up. there's a real sense of family in that newsroom,
and i think if you just look at robert moore's exclusive on the steps of the capitol in january this year, he was the onlyjournalist in the world who was actually with those capitol hill rioters of as they went into the capitol building, and he told their story from the inside, having invested a great deal of time, energy and journalism, in getting to know the movement, where they hung out and how they communicated, in a way even american media had not. i think that story alone tells us that the itv newsroom of today still embodies those values of really agile journalism. the greatest scoops comes free because they're all about knowing where the story
is and following your gut instinct, and that's what robert did, and that's what manyjournalists continue to do today. that's a rich, deep heritage whether you are looking penny marshall's exclusive at the bosnian camps, and many before her, that's what itv news does. i'm proud to say that robert moore is an old mate of mine, and we've spoken to him here on the media show about that scoop. it was incredible journalism. indeed, you had several scoops yourself. including the 2005 exclusive pictures of the capture of the 77 london bombers. i wonder how that story came to you. the best scoops you get are the ones that really give you the element of surprise, and i remember that day so vividly. so, obviously, just after the 7/7 horrendous attacks in london, where so many people lost their lives, and everybody was on edge.
then came this news that there was a raid happening in these flats in west london. we dispatched our crews and no—one knew what was going on, there was a cordon around the area, but we were hearing all sorts of sounds and stun grenades and military action going on. but nobody knew what was going on. then we got a call onto the news desk from somebody who actually lives in the flats and had literally a front on view of everything that was happening as the special forces came in and raided the flats and arrested the terrorists. and this guy has recorded everything.
and i said to him i wanted the footage — he wanted money for it, and it had value. so we got into negotiation, and then abc, the american broadcasters, came in and just blew my offer to this guy for his footage out of the water. they put so much money on the table. so i basically cold—called the daily mail. a guy who is now a good acquaintance said he couldn't but how can we do this together? you know, mount a joint bid. i think the tapes were thrown of the back of
the flat into a garden. my producer had to climb over walls to get the tapes and then we had to transfer them because it was the guy's camera. james, one of our amazing correspondents, turned around in time for the evening news. this unbelievable scoop. it had dominated every media platform and around the world, and bang, evening news, headlines exclusive, there is. you talked about robert moore saying the best scoops are free. you actually paid for this one. how much? i won't say how much i for paid. more than i can afford. six figures? i'm not going to go there! i can't even remember! you'd be surprised how low my budgets were. i won't talk about the money here. it was definitely worth it. when you ran itv news,
and there is a school of thought that that's the period — i'm not laying all of this at your door, absolutely not — but that's the period mainstream media probably lost touch with ordinary people. an estrangement that failed to predict the brexit vote ultimately, or indeed boris johnson's 80 seat majority in 2019. it was probably a long time coming up to that decade, but do you think that's fair? do you think that's when the rubber did hit the road and many of the members of the public felt they wanted their news elsewhere? i think that itv news as a brand has always been in touch with its audience, and has been recognised for that connectivity. i think it comes up through its rich roots through itv regional
operation with really considerable grassroots journalism across the country. i think that does feed up and into the kind of news that itv news is. so, while i do recognise that overall, the media lost touch with some members of the audience, i think that impacted itv news a little less than others, if i'm honest. let's talk about the states. you leapt across the pond to america in 2013. much bigger market, bigger budgets, bigger headaches. for those tuning in who don't know their way around the american media landscape, where would you position nbc news? nbc news is impartial. politically, it doesn't have a point of view. it's interesting because i know you've spoken about the fairness doctrine in the us, and i'm with you in terms
of when ronald reagan did away with the fairness doctrine to make way for right wing talk radio... and this was the rule that meant that all broadcasters, in order to have a licence, they had to give all points of view on a particular issue. yes, and when it was done away with, it changed the landscape and pave the way for fox news and msnbc and other news entities with approach and point of view. even though there isn't the kind of regulation we have in this country, nbc news invests very heavily to be impartial, to see all sides and does it because that's a point of pride. that's how they've always done it. and won't be leant upon, and without fear or favour. but that's tricky in the age of donald trump.
your time at nbc coincided with the rise of the donald, as it were. that must have been a nightmare to report on this man whom the washington post reckons lied or made misleading statements more than 30,000 times during his presidency. it was really hard. during the campaign, as trump was becoming a force to be reckoned with, the challenge was not only how to not spend your entire programme fact checking what he said, but an even greater danger i felt was how not to allow your programme to be consumed by the latest tweets. there was news to carry and important issues to cover, and the circus which is high—octane in any american election cycle, was off the chart. sorry to interrupt, but do you think you should have called him out earlier? that coincided with your time
when he laid the foundation for this alternate reality of truth, should you of truth, should you and others in america have called him out earlier? look, i think his rhetoric became more complex and darker as he went on. did we call him out enough? you weren't the only ones. it's hard to be the judge of that. but he was good for the business as well. i think that was something... there are some famous quotes bandied around — others, not me, and i think it drove on cable channels. ——ratings. not necessarily on the platforms i was driving, so i was never in a position where i felt i was trying to exploit the donald trump phenomenon for ratings gain, and we always
try to be balanced. but i will say i think where we didn't get it right — and we talked about it at length after the election — was not only to not see him coming, but to have listened to the electorate and respect them. i think that problem still prevails. if robert moore was the only journalist with the capitol hill rioters that day, it's because nobody else was listening, nobody else was talking to those people. which is why that story was missed. i think it's the exact same circumstances. there's a sort of lack of learning several years on. a point well put. we're going to shuttle back over to the uk now. you're the chief of itn,
ultimately the boss of itv news. how much day—to—dayjournalism do you get involved with? do you sign off controversial stories? i have to say, i'm almost not involved at all with journalism. i'm up here on the fifth floor. i check in. there's a morning editorial briefing at ten o'clock to 10:15, where each of the news services talks about what they've got on that day, any legal issues etc. so you let them get on with it? yes, i really do. you're saying that in a way as if you don't believe me! how much sharing of resources takes place? so, nobody in the world does what's itn does, to run three incredibly distinctive news services.
and yet, to do it with an economy of scale at the back end that makes it cost—effective so that you can really focus enough of your budgets on covering the news, investing in destinations. —— investigations. yes, there's the building, there's the massive engineering infrastructure. studios and studio supports, edit vehicles, satellite feeds, travel, all that stuff that happens that is completely noncompetitive that needs to be there. the it and all of that. but the newsrooms themselves are completely independent under separate editors, separate producers, separate news presenters, the teams in the field.
of course, when you're in the field, you'll help each out and support each other as colleagues. but there is an emphasis on keeping the final product as distinct as possible? 1000%. absolutely. we are brothers and sisters, but we are frenemies. we talk about what we're doing in front of each other. but it's competitive. for many, many years, we've actually managed to walk that tight rope and it works, it really, really works. how much of an overlap is there with the audience? forgive me on this, a crude summary might suggest that itv is for traditional viewers, perhaps older audiences. channel 4 is for younger, left—leaning audiences, perhaps more social media savvy. channel 5 viewers are waiting for the next pop history documentary to start.
that's quite stereotyping of the audiences, i would say. not too bad. itv news is massive reach in terms of how many consumers it reaches. both in tv and digital. serving up a broad agenda. channel 4 news goes more in depth, as more investigations, it focuses on issues around social justice and on foreign affairs, so if that's your cup of tea, you'll be there. 5 news has carved out a niche, serving a tea—time audience. very interested in the prism of ordinary people. they are running a really big series on long covid on how that's impacting people.
they are do more on that than anybody else. each has its own target audience, but i'm sure there are some people that watch all three. yes, but what's distinctive about channel 4 for instance, as far as the government is concerned, is that it's a little bit left wing. why do you think that? i think channel 4 news, it must be noted, has never once been found against by 0fcom in the impartiality rulings. that's an important point to make. it really is. it covers the news with impartiality. is it robust? yes. is it uncompromising? yes. they asked the toughest question sometimes because that's what their brand is all about. and they have an hour to do it. as you know, in a world of finite
news durations, it's very hard when you have half an hour to tell the world's story. when you have an hour, you just have that extra beat to go deeper and asked the second and third follow—up question. but i think you're talking about prioritisation and the move currently is about economics. it's about the longer—term protection of channel 4 as the government sees it. are you confident that you can keep that independence with all the talk of privatisation? look, we have to. we are... ..impartial ourselves on the model for channel 4, but what we're not impartial about is channel 4 news. it is the most critical part of channel 4's remix, ——remit. it is the most recognised and awarded news programme in britain. it goes out there and does more world—changing impactful journalism than any other news
programme there is. it reaches more young people on social platforms than any other news programme. it's incredibly important to the plurality of this country. it's a very important piece of our media landscape. if channel 4 is to be privatised, then we will fight for it to be protected. i have no reason to believe the government won't protect it. i do believe this government understands and recognises the importance of channel 4 news. is it sometimes a thorn in their side? yes, but i do think they recognise it and i think ourjob is to make sure the journalism speaks for itself. we continue to break exclusives and change the world, and i think we look to see if we can enhance the remit in a future arrangement. i think there are models out there that point to how you can protect news.
i was at comcast when they acquired sky, and they signed up to a ten year guarantee of sky news's budget. and an independent editorial board which protects sky's editorial independence. i think there are models there if we're serious about it, so we're going to be putting some of that into our submission for dcms consultation. how are you able, for instance, to deal with what the telegraph reported last month. £161; pension deficit — how do you deal with that? it's no secret that itn has a pension deficit, and in fact, the telegraph asked me about that, and said, does it trouble me that ultimately profit we will generate
would go into filling the pension deficit? for me, i think it's a noble cause. people are motivated for different reasons. are people at the guardian less motivated because of trust? we must work very hard to make sure the pension deficit is kept alive. finally, you've worked in mainstream news your whole career. it is where most people get their news from, programmes like abc and channel 4 news. how long do you think that can remain the case, that most people get their news from television and not migrate online or elsewhere? i think the death of television news has been oft predicted, but it hasn't happened yet. i think what needs to happen
is that great brands, whether it's itv or individual brands, will migrate with the audience. and they will go where the audience goes, and they must do that, and that's one of the things that i hopefully am here to make happen. so, i would like to predict the final demise of the appointment to view broadcast tv bulletin, and the best of them will migrate in different formats. debra turness, thank you very much indeed for your time today. thank you very much, clive. the media show will be back the same time next week. thanks for listening. bye— bye.
hello, everyone. many of us will see heavy, thundery downpours as we head through today across much of the uk. there is nowhere that will completely avoid these, but we do also have some sunny spells in the mix, so fingers crossed we will see some of that as well. these are all swelling around an area of low pressure. that in turn will also bring some blustery conditions at times. eastern sheltered parts will get away with drier weather for longer, but the showers are all on the move, and they will reach most parts through the afternoon. the breeze will strengthen, top temperatures 15—20 c. as we cast an eye upon this evening, further showers, and again some will be heavy and slow moving and sundry, generating a lot of rainfall within a short space of time once more. —— thundery. most night of 13 celsius. tomorrow the showers are still with us, but unsettled at times. an area
this is bbc world news broadcasting to viewers in the uk and around the globe. i'm lewis vaughan jones. our top stories: the taliban seizes a provincial capital in southern afghanistan, as the un's envoy demands the militants end their offensive. we are extremely concerned about the safety and security of people in cities under taliban attacks and what brutality would await them. at the olympics, it's another gold medalfor team gb as galal yafai beats carlo paalam of the philippines in the flyweight boxing. tom daley wins bronze in the 10m platform final, gb�*s 60th medal of the games. nearly half the regions in greece are on high alert,
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