We try and keep you informed about what’s happening in the world of broadcast and broadcast PR, via our monthly newsletter. Here we sum up some of the biggest broadcast PR news stories and events of 2023.
Inevitably, a year ender includes a sad reminder of those we’ve lost.
In April tributes poured in following the sudden death of radio and TV presenter Paul O’Grady. In a 30 year career he presented the comedy game show Blankety Blank in the late 90s under the guise of Lily Savage and hosted The Paul O’Grady Show, Blind Date and “For the Love of Dogs.”.
Another BBC stalwart, journalist and newsreader George Alagiah died in August, aged 67 after several years suffering from bowel cancer. He presented the BBC News at Six for 20 years and before that, he was an award-winning foreign correspondent.
In June ITN released news of the death of Emily Morgan – their health and science editor who died from lung cancer aged just 45. She worked for ITV news for more than 23 years and played a pivotal role in reporting the Covid-19 pandemic. Those paying tribute included Health Secretary Steve Barclay.
The founder of Britain’s first full-time Asian radio station, Sunrise Radio, died in July this year, at the age of 73. Sunrise Radio started life as a pirate station, but under the ownership of Dr Avatar Lit was given a license in 1989. Under his stewardship Sunrise initially targeted an Asian demographic in West London, but in 2016 it went national on DAB.
From a personal point of view, some of the Shout! Team were really saddened to hear about the death of radio journalist, manager and tutor, Martin Campbell. He taught on the Postgraduate Diploma in Radio Journalism in Falmouth, where Shout! Communications founders Keren Haynes and Catherine Bayfield met. When Martin left teaching he worked for the Radio Authority and Ofcom, where he was Chief Adviser (Radio) for 12 years.
It’s rare that a TV magazine news show becomes the news, but ITV’s This Morning was the exception to this. First presenter Phillip Schofield resigned, then subsequently admitted that he lied about having an affair with a younger and more junior colleague. ITV bosses faced questions from MPs over the scandal.
Then, in November fellow presenter Holly Willoughby quit the show, shortly before a man was charged with soliciting to commit murder and incitement to commit kidnap.
Head of Sky News, John Ryley, stepped down after 28 years with the organisation and 17 years in the top position. In 2021 he was awarded an Outstanding Contribution Award by the Royal Television Society, which said he had “effected genuine change in our industry.”
Channel 4 has announced it’s axing Steph McGovern’s daytime show, Steph’s Packed Lunch. The show, which has been on-air since 2020, was based in Leeds and Channel 4 says it credits the programme for kick starting the channel’s growth in the north of England.
Great British Radio has ceased trading and stopped broadcasting, just before Christmas, a few weeks before it was due to launch on the national digital radio multiplex.
And there have been big cuts at the BBC. In December the BBC announced it’s cutting back BBC Two’s Newsnight, from 45 to 30 minutes, losing more than half of its staff. In total 30 jobs will go and the programme will become a discussion programme, dropping its investigative films.
Even bigger cuts have been made across the BBC’s local radio network. An estimated thousand jobs have gone as part of a restructuring programme. Back in May 2022, the BBC announced it was going to build a digital-first public service media organisation, reflecting how audiences have changed their listening habits over recent years. It’s plan is to free up £500m annually, making savings in local broadcast news that could instead be reinvested into things such as BBC Sounds, the BBC’s online audio platform.
Now for some better news
Whilst awful for BBC employees who were made redundant or had to reapply for their jobs, some of the money diverted as a result of the changes has been reinvested into areas such as BBC Sounds, the BBC’s online audio platform.
Changes to the BBC local radio network have resulted in some new programmes,including the networking of programming, something the major commercial networks such as Heart and Capital have been doing for the best part of a decade. Networking is where a presenter delivers a show from one radio station, but it is simulcast on two or more stations. So, you could, for example, be listening to BBC radio Somerset, but the show may also be going out on Radio Devon and Radio Cornwall.
See more about what this means for broadcast PR in our blog on the topic here – for public relations it’s not as bad as it sounds, there are some really excellent opportunities to be had.
The BBC News At One bulletin is being extended from 30 minutes to an hour and will be broadcast from Salford, alongside BBC Breakfast. The later unveiled a new look studio in 2023, its first makeover in over a decade. This included high tech graphics, but the programme kept its iconic red sofa.
The BBC also unveiled BBC Verify – a move to address the growing threat of disinformation and to build trust with audiences, by transparently showing how BBC journalists find out about the information they are reporting on.
About to arrive on our screens is former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is joining the controversial TV channel GB News in the New Year. It’s been reported that he will play a key role in coverage of the UK and US elections next year.
To end our list of 2023 PR news stories on a high note….commercial radio celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2023. Ending a BBC monopoly, LBC was launched in October 1973, followed by Capital a week later. They were the first in chain of nineteen local stations launched that decade, broadcasting across the airwaves from a basement just off London’s Fleet St, along with Independent Radio News which provided news and sport to the commercial network. Playing hits on what was the relatively new FM waveband, in stereo, they quickly attracted huge audiences. Today commercial radio now has 39 million listeners.
At Shout! Communications we celebrated our 20th anniversary. Not only that we welcomed our clients back to our first Big Talk pandemic. We had a packed venue with an audience keen to hear from our speakers who included: Magnus McGrandle, senior news editor at the BBC News Channel, Arti Lukha, programme Editor at ITV, Oruj Defoite, Deputy programme editor at GMB, and Sam Bonham, senior news editor BBC news podcasts.
Our programme of online Small Talks also continued throughout the year. Speakers included Sky Sunrise producer Laura Plant, Times Radio presenter Rosie Wright, Channel 5 News producer Katherine Hodgson and Times Radio and TalkTV showbiz editor, Johnny Seifert.
Want to hear more Broadcast PR news and trends?
Make sure you’re on our mailing list, to receive news about broadcast and broadcast PR – as well as invitations to our great events. Email Keren@shoutcommunications.co.uk