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Exclusive Interview with News 24 Controller

The controller of BBC News 24 has spoken about how the channel has developed under his leadership in an exclusive interview for the TV Newsroom.

Kevin Bakhurst, who joined the channel in December 2005 from the Ten O’clock News, told us about the changes which have made the BBC’s rolling news channel the UK’s number one and hinted at yet more changes ahead.

He said that “the two key things that have improved the channel have been the fact that BBC News has put the channel at the heart of our TV News operation and secondly the strength of the presenter and production teams we have assembled.”

He stressed that the simulcasting of national BBC bulletins such as the flagship 10pm bulletin was part of this strategy and also praised the work of Ben Brown and Emily Maitlis, who have been working on the channels weekday evening shift since April with them “bringing a real combination of authority and watchability.”

Bakhurst said that the schedule changes introduced earlier this year “brought in some household names with established credibility as presenters or as correspondents in the field and they joined some of the best rolling news presenters already in the business.”

On Huw Edwards joining the channel, he commented that Huw “brings the authority of the main presenter of the Ten O’Clock News – and the format allows more of his character to come through, which is great. The slot has attracted some top name guests from a number of different fields.”

When asked about further changes to the channel, Bakhurst revealed that they “have some new programmes planned; one or two new faces are expected to be joining us soon; and some changes to the on-screen look.” One of the new faces has been revealed as ITN’s Nicholas Owen, who joins the channel in February and the team are working up three new programmes for the channel.

He also said that no decision had been taken on whether the channel would be renamed, as was reported by MediaGuardian earlier in the year, but stressed that it was part of a “BBC-wide look at branding.”

Bakhurst also stressed that the channel had developed its international coverage further since removing the daily World News bulletin from its schedule. “Not only are we doing more international coverage generally, presenting frequently on location for big stories, but we now have a new current affairs slot at weekends which is primarily world coverage too.”

Updated: Tuesday 21 November 2006