Sunday 18 May 2014


Alan at Biased BBC has scooped what I've been watching out for for months: Newsnight's latest viewing figures.

As we've made 2014 'The Year of Newsnight' here at "Is", I've been intrigued to see what effect former Guardian deputy editor Ian Katz's determined attempts to revive the show have actually had on Newsnight's poor ratings....

....and now we know....

They've fallen by a further 5%, according to Broadcast

How depressing for Ian Katz!

Oh, the irony!

It could be worse though. Newsnight's ratings seem to be stabilising around the 600,000 mark and their recent low of 320,000 viewers was nothing that hasn't been seen before (such a figure was last seen 14 months earlier when they got 254,000 viewers). 

I can't help thinking that the imminent departure of the show's star, Jeremy Paxman, is unlikely to help matters for them. As we've noted before, surveys show that The Great Paxo manages to draw larger ratings than other Newsnight presenters (such as Kirsty Wark).

Still the question remains: Why are Newsnight's ratings continuing to fall, even while Jeremy Paxman is still in the presenter's chair? 

This puzzles me somewhat because, as I've confessed before, I actually rather like the new-look Newsnight - despite the occasional car crashes (like the Yalda Hakim edition) and the continuing instances of bias. 

This week, for example, has seen an interesting interview about the effects of genetics on history, a fair-minded report about free schools, a fascinating bit of pre-1707 Scottish imperial history and an interview with Debbie Harry, among other things - all things I'm glad to have watched. 

Maybe that's part of the problem though. 

Hmm, me like 'Newsnight'. Om nom nom...zzzzzzz

Newsnight has been shedding viewers for ages and the recent scandals must have had an adverse impact on the programme's viewing figures too. The BBC's current affairs flagship was ready for the scrap merchants even before Ian Katz took over.

Some die-hard Newsnight viewers continued watching though, doggedly - presumably they were hoping for the continuation of the usual parade of scraps with ConLibLab politicians and dialectic diatribes from Comrade Paul Mason - but what happened? 

Well, they found themselves facing a new-style Newsnight - a Newsnight that's turning into my sort of programme - i.e. a lighter kind of magazine show rather than a heavy political show, a sort of segmented version of Start the Week

That may not be what they want. 

Maybe the loss of Michael Crick, Paul Mason and Gavin Esler also irked the hardcore Newsnight crowd - though, for me, their departure has been wholly welcome [and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the departure of Kirsty Wark next].

Plus, maybe the early gimmicks - Kirsty's Zombie Dance, Emily and the Cookie Monster - didn't help with that kind of audience either [though how anyone could take against the Cookie Monster is beyond me].

A vision of the programme's future?

I really don't know why Newsnight's ratings are continuing to fall though. I'm just guessing. 

If it continues like this though, it's soon going to have passed on, be no more, have ceased to be, expired and gone to meet its maker. It's going to be a stiff of a BBC current affairs programme, bereft of life, resting in peace and pushing up the daisies, its metabolic processes history, off the twig, having kicked the bucket & shuffled off this mortal coil, and having run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible.

Poor Ian Katz.

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