Lecture from Nick Pollard


On wednesday I attended the start of the Coventry Conversations 2009, which is a series of talks given by important figures from the world of media and communication. The first speaker was Nick Pollard who is the ex director of Sky News. After leaving Sky News he was honoured by a lifetime achievement award at the Royal Television Society Journalism Awards and he has also worked for The BBC, ITN (as executive director of News at Ten) and a number of newspapers in his early career.

The talk was entitled ‘Does TV news have a future?’ and it was fascinating to listen to such an influential figure talk about the ever changing world of broadcast news. In simple terms the answer appears to be yes there is a future for TV news. A number of interesting points were raised however about the way we will continue to view news on screens. An item such as a portable, remotely updated, device that can be viewed on the go or connected to a screen in the home is a likely direction broadcast news will go in according to Mr Pollard. Another area with potential is conventional newspapers with paper thin integrated screens that have live 24 hour feeds.

Although rolling news channels are popular and a growing area of broadcast Nick Pollard also believes that self contained programmes such as the BBC Ten o’clock News and News at Ten will be in demand for many years. The public still want to sit down in the evening and view a pre selected set of articles that gives them a broad knowledge of the day’s events. I happen to find this reassuring, 24 hour news is clearly very good at covering live events and image rich stories but at times of little or no news can be accused of filling time with endless interviews, looping of articles and over analysing. For these reasons self contained news programmes are destined to stay on our televisions but run alongside interactive media hardware such as iPhones, palmtops, laptops and future hand held devices.

Another important issue raised was the licence fee and where its future lies. Nick Pollard believes that if a Conservative government are elected in 2010, which is widely regarded an inevitability, the licence fee would be top sliced. He points to a number of reasons why this would not be a bad thing, he claims the BBC is maybe just too big and would not suffer from focusing its attention on its most important aspects such as BBC1 and BBC2, the BBC website and BBC Radio four, three, two and one. This would improve those services dramatically whilst keeping the licence payer happy with a price reduction. The BBC has also had a lot of criticism for its pay structure, having big name presenters such as Jeremy Clarkson, Jonathan Ross and Chris Moyles paid enormous wages is not endearing them to the public. A pay structure reform and a small reduction in the licence fee (Nick Pollard suggested £15) would, according to Mr Pollard, be no bad thing.

The talk was a fascinating insight into the world of news broadcast by a powerful and influential figure in the industry.


2 Responses to “Lecture from Nick Pollard”

  1. Alison Le Mare Says:

    I hope and believe that self-contained news programmes will long continue. Particularly at times of crisis and bad news it’s important to be able to watch more detailed, considered news articles and digest the information properly. The BBC has a major responsibility in this, as evidenced by the way the nation turns to the BBC at times such as 9/11. One major problem with rolling news screens is that however devastating the news they just become a backdrop to our lives, endlessly playing and replaying news until it becomes almost meaningless.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. The news seems somehow diluted by rolling coverage and at times of such importance it is vital we retain the self contained programme.

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