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Farewell then, podcast

Peter Barron | 16:20 UK time, Friday, 27 July 2007

Last night I met the editor and presenter of the Serbian equivalent of Newsnight, who was in London on a fact-finding mission and keen to see Newsnight in the flesh. It quickly became apparent that he is very familiar with our output and when I asked how come he said he subscribes to Newsnight's podcast and regularly steals ideas from us.

Newsnight logoHeartwarming, but also a little heartbreaking because this week's Newsnight podcast will be the last, at least for now. It's been part of a trial of video podcasts which the BBC has been running for the past year, the aim being to find out what viewers want from services like this and how they use them.

That video trial has now come to an end (my colleague Mark has blogged more about this here), so this week's edition, including highlights from our special programme on Islam, discussion of the floods, and an intriguing piece about community TV in Belgium, will be the last. The BBC now plans to look at how the trial went and later in the year will decide what happens next.

So thanks to Zoran and everyone else who subscribed, we hope you enjoyed it and will let us know what you thought.


  • 1.
  • At 05:59 PM on 27 Jul 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

I don't use the podcasts, but do rely on the 'Listen Again' type feature, and links to the Special Reports, Interviews and so forth, so I'm not exactly sure what the point of a 'podcast' is ??

After all, if one can pick out Special Reports for up to a month afterwards, I am not sure what a 'podcast' gives you that isn't available here ?

I suppose the podcast covers a week's output, and one can only get 'last night's' episode on 'Listen Again'.

But then isn't there a danger people wouldn't bother watching the whole show and only view the podcast highlights and thus miss the real meat of what was being discussed ?

I may well have missed something here, never having viewed the podcast - but I guess the point of Newsnight is that it gives you some of the spinach/cabbage you didn't want, but which is 'good for you', as well as the 'meat and potatoes' you did want to see. I've never been convinced that giving people what they want, and nothing more, has been the point of news.

As John Walters admirably said to John Peel [albeit about radio] "We're not here to give people what they want - we're here to give people stuff they didn't even know they wanted' [or something like that]

  • 2.
  • At 07:56 PM on 27 Jul 2007,
  • Lilly Evans wrote:

So, how will the podcasts impact and value be assessed?

If it is of any interest, they have been a very good way of catching up with missed programmes. In addition, they have provided a link with BBC News for my daughter studying in USA - for years she used to go to sleep with Paxman on Newsnight. He is not so scary after all!

  • 3.
  • At 08:37 PM on 27 Jul 2007,
  • Enzo wrote:

The end, at least for now, of the podcast is truly a big bummer. Boo. Hiss.

Hope you make it back soon.

  • 4.
  • At 09:15 PM on 27 Jul 2007,
  • Gareth Harrison wrote:

"I don't use the podcasts, but do rely on the 'Listen Again' type feature, and links to the Special Reports, Interviews and so forth, so I'm not exactly sure what the point of a 'podcast' is ??"

The main difference is that to 'Listen Again', you have to be connected to the internet when you want to access it. With a podcast, you can download it to your MP3 player so you can listen to or watch the content anywhere, at anytime.

  • 5.
  • At 12:02 AM on 28 Jul 2007,
  • Joolz wrote:

I that case, it's goodbye to Newsnight from me. I don't have time to watch the TV edition.

What the podcast audio edition gives me over and above the TV and 'Listen Again' editions, is the ability to listen while I'm doing other things. I am not tied to a television or a computer. I can listen on the train, in the supermarket or where ever I choose, whenever I choose. I don't even have to worry about taking Newsnight with me since it automatically appears on my iPod and is simply 'there' whenever I want it - radio/TV-on-demand, in my pocket.

The world is changing. For me, this is not the future but the present. The future lies with handheld devices such as the video iPod and IPhone. They are becoming ubiquitous enabling people like me to watch or listen to content from across the world,

If the BBC withdraws their online podcast content, I will simply listen to content from another media source.

Goodbye Newsnight.

newsnight...awesome report about Islam.

  • 7.
  • At 01:32 PM on 28 Jul 2007,
  • DaveH wrote:

This and the end of Storyfix simply demonstrates the nonsense that is being spouted by the BBC in pursuit of the "yoof" market. They may well want 1 min's news read by an over made-up dolly focusing on celebs, but they can get it from many sources. Forget this poiuntless markey sector and refocus on gettingn the news accurate and in depth.

  • 8.
  • At 10:05 PM on 28 Jul 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

Podcasts are great. If you miss a program, you can catch up on the important reports. Podcasts are more effective than the 'listen again' feature because you don't need to rely on your computer buffing adequately, you can rewatch important reports weeks after it was shown. Basically Podcasts make Newsnight more useful to people.

  • 9.
  • At 10:41 PM on 28 Jul 2007,
  • Tom wrote:

I hope the podcast isn't gone long, I use it every morning on the bus into University when I wouldn't be around in the evening to watch the program the first time around.

These days I rarely watch TV or listen to radio when it is broadcast, preferring downloads and podcasts for their convenience and portability (podcasts automatic download and transfer to my MP3 player; can be played without an internet connection; and aren't infected with DRM, meaning I can play them on every device I own). Listening to Newsnight whilst commuting means I have more free time in the evening!

However, as a Mac owner I'm unable to use the iPlayer to watch BBC TV programmes (whilst the Beeb unfairly aids Microsoft's desktop monopoly), and without the podcasts I'm unlikely to listen to the BBC either. Having changed my listening habits to incorporate podcasting, I'm sorely missing the Now Show and Newsnight podcasts, and if more radio shows had been included in the trial (the News Quiz, ISIHAC, Just a Minute, infact most of Radio 4's output, etc) I'd be missing those too. Now, I'm just missing the shows completely. Which is a shame.

  • 11.
  • At 02:50 PM on 29 Jul 2007,
  • Heather wrote:

I really hope that the BBC will offer the video downloads of Newnight and Breakfast in the future. As I am living in the states, the podcasts were an easy way of keeping track of the UK/World news while traveling to work each morning. Please bring them back soon.

  • 12.
  • At 09:41 PM on 29 Jul 2007,
  • Emma Hyner wrote:

Not only will the Newsnight Podcast be sadly missed, but StoryFix also!

What am I going to do without my fix on my way to work?

  • 13.
  • At 04:28 AM on 30 Jul 2007,
  • Matthew wrote:

It was good while it lasted.

But what's with launching a service, letting us all get used to it, then announcing it was only a trial and it's going away now? You did it with the Now Show, and now you're doing it to Newsnight.

I'm sure this was all explained in the 'terms of use' referred to at the beginning of the podcast. Still, if you want to be relevant, you need to stop taking things like this away without a clearer warning. Fantastic though Newsnight is, we'll find other things to fill the time, and some of us won't be back.

  • 14.
  • At 11:16 AM on 30 Jul 2007,
  • Ted Maul wrote:

Mr Barron, please pay no heed to the contribution by Bedd Gelert (post 1), who seems to think that the podcast facility ought to be scrapped for everyone because he personally chooses not to use it and fails to see the point of it.

The advantage of podcasting over streaming, which Mr Gelert fails to see but which other contributors to this thread have pointed out, is that it allows viewers to enjoy Newsnight while not connected to the internet, and to build up a personalized reference archive of past content. Newsnight's in-depth reports have enduring value and relevance, so it's great to have one's own downloaded copy of them.

In short, please listen to this heartfelt plea from a disconsolate licence fee-payer: keep doing the podcasts!

Many thanks

  • 15.
  • At 12:49 PM on 30 Jul 2007,
  • Barrie wrote:

If the BBC had reveiwed the value of the podcast a couple of months ago there need not have been a break in service. If it had proved to be of value it could have continued seemlessly.
It makes no sense to build up a loyal audience only to discard it while you carry out a review. Do you think we will be hanging on awaiting the verdict? No, we'll be watching something else.

  • 16.
  • At 03:23 PM on 30 Jul 2007,
  • Dr Michael Vallance wrote:

I live outside UK and Newsnight podcast (in car) and vodcast (on Mac at work - he he) are essential listening for informed news and reports and simply good journalism.
ITunes allows all my podcasts to be updated when I connect my iPod. I then disconnect my iPod and, well, that's it isn't it! Simple.
The content makes for great classroom discussion topics, and many students have iPods so it is good for educators to recommend worthy, professional Podcasts.
C'mon BBC Newsnight - bring back Podcasts ASAP.

  • 17.
  • At 07:56 PM on 30 Jul 2007,
  • Saeed wrote:

Here in Canada, I'd got addicted to Radio 4 Today's Morning Briefings, but this morning I found out, along the recent changes, you have dropped it and instead of 4 podcasts from Today, there are only two short ones now, and Brifieng is the big loss here.
Please bring it back!

If this is indeed the end, it's terrible news, for overseas watchers at least. As someone living in France but without access to BBC World, I've really enjoyed the vodcasts, but then again, I suppose it's freeloaders like me - after all, I don't pay to see them, do I? - that are the designated victims of this decision, as the patronising introduction about the "Serbian equivalents" seems to imply. So OK, you get to identify ever more precisely viewers and licence-fee payers, but at the cost of that little bit of "global reach" which will be lost to other international vodcast providers who don't seem to be quitting the field.

  • 19.
  • At 11:37 PM on 30 Jul 2007,
  • Josh wrote:

That's an entirely silly thing to do. Newsnight has some of the best journalism in this country, but I'm simply not near a television when it's on.
Why do you need to remove the service to assess it? Could this not be done whilst the service is still available? It all seems a little silly.

  • 20.
  • At 02:58 AM on 31 Jul 2007,
  • Karin Edwards wrote:

Boo hiss, indeed! I need my vodcast fix... on-demand... anytime, anywhere.

Conspiracy theory No. 1:

V/Podcast trials are cancelled just as the BBC starts airing series 1 of "Heroes," a US-network (NBC) produced piece of fluffy entertainment, for which the Beeb already agreed to pay a whopping £400,000 per episode for series 2 (£9.2 million of our money). How much UK-produced podcasting (or StoryFix) could that support, I wonder?

Conspiracy theory No. 2:

Vodcasts will return, but as a billable service, contrary to current promise.

Conspiracy theory No. 3:

Paxo never believed, did he? Don't underestimate the power of the Paxo. Remember the short-lived weather forecasts on Newsnight? OK, they were daft.

Behavioural response No. 1:

Feelings of grief. Symptoms of withdrawal.

Behavioural response No. 2:

Discovered is offering a lot more vodcasts free these days! New fix found.

Behavioural response No. 3 (?):

May eventually get over inherent mistrust of US-produced (OK, a lot of CNN International is shot at studios here in London, but editorial and executive is still in Atlanta, Georgia, USA). Does that mean I'd actually start believing George W. Bush's view of the world?

For the sake of (portable and) intelligent thought, PLEASE BRING BACK V/PODCASTS of BBC-PRODUCED NEWS... sooner rather than later!

  • 21.
  • At 11:24 AM on 31 Jul 2007,
  • Nets wrote:

I've only just discovered these podcasts -- I love Newsnight when I happen to see it, but the time I have available for watching TV is generally on the train and not at home in the evening. The result is that I don't watch Newsnight much at all. That's unlikely to change now.

I was really surprised and disappointed to hear that the audio NewsNight podcast has been axed. I have 2 hour commute up to Tokyo each day and I really enjoy listening to the BBC podcasts on the train.

I can only imagine that the BBC is cutting down on the staff assigned to editing the audio version. If this is the reason and please consider that if it could be produced in a cheaper fashion perhaps using automation, it would still be a useful resource to many people. Even if the audio podcast was the raw audio of the TV program, it would still be a interesting way to keep up with the UK news.

  • 23.
  • At 03:03 PM on 31 Jul 2007,
  • Fi wrote:

Please return the podcasts! As an expat living in Japan it was so convenient catching up with some intelligent news while catching the train to work.

  • 24.
  • At 11:19 PM on 31 Jul 2007,
  • Michael Steen wrote:

Yet another voice -- please bring back the Newsnight pod and vodcasts! The audio podcast was great for my iPod during the ride to work and I dipped into the vodcast sometimes too. Yes, I don't live in the UK right now and I do use a BBC-unfriendly Mac, but surely this was a great branding/advertising exercise for you?

  • 25.
  • At 11:58 AM on 01 Aug 2007,
  • Craig wrote:

Why discontinue the podcast? Like many, I cannot sit up every evening watching Newsnight, instead I listen via podcast on my early morning drives to meetings across the country. It cannot be placing too much of a drain on BBC resources to conduct a bit of audio editing?

  • 26.
  • At 05:02 PM on 01 Aug 2007,
  • Max wrote:

I only listen to the podcast, most of the TV show is a waste of time. It's cringeful how they treat Frank Luntz as an oracle whenever he's on. And Paxman is just a parody of himself now.

  • 27.
  • At 03:11 AM on 02 Aug 2007,
  • Andy Marshall wrote:

I too miss the BBC news and The Now Show podcasts - Sky News is simply not in the same league. Podcasts are about the only way I can see BBC programmes as I live in Japan. I have reccommended them to everyone that wants to see more balanced news and insight than the usual fare that is dished up here (CNN regurgitation) by the local news organizations.
The iPlayer fills me with dread!! Firstly Microsoft's DRM and then the GeoIP which will mean that only those with UK IP addresses can access programming. What is the provision for overseas listeners/viewers, I don't want the tedious repetition of BBC World that is aimed at hotels where people only watch briefly. Is there going to be a sensible option for paid viewing/listening for those outside the UK, not based only asking those in hotels and airport lounges what they want.
Sorry for the semi-rant but the BBC is important to me for entertainment and sanity, I don't know what I would do without my daily fix of BBC7, Radios 3 and 4.

  • 28.
  • At 07:48 AM on 03 Aug 2007,
  • Adil wrote:

Hello everybody, I think BBC podcast service is amazing, I am living in Pakistan so i cannot watch programs which are broadcast in UK and i have to rely on these kind of podcast produced by BBC.
I hope BBC will soon make these programs available again and also more programs and also consider that it is helping the people who are not living in UK to become to audience of such good programs.

  • 29.
  • At 10:18 AM on 03 Aug 2007,
  • James Brown wrote:

I am in a state of disarray at the pulling of the Newsnight podcast. I live in Wellington, New Zealand, where the poor quality and insular nature of the media is so poor it brings me to tears. I need Newsnight to keep me in touch with the World and events in the UK. I listen to it walking and on all too frequent long haul flights, when it keeps me sane. PLEASE bring it back!

  • 30.
  • At 11:30 AM on 03 Aug 2007,
  • Ashley Brown wrote:

I was just starting to use the audio podcast on my walk into work, as Newsnight isn't on at a time which suits me. The video podcast was no use to me as I'd bump into people...

What I would've liked is a 30 minute audio version every day/every other day rather than just once a week.

Perhaps it is time to go for a subscription service with BBC World, while letting those of us who currently pay for the BBC make the most use of the technology available, rather than taking a regressive step.

  • 31.
  • At 03:54 PM on 03 Aug 2007,
  • Kyle Brown wrote:

"This will be the last podcast..."
I had to sit down as I heard the news.

I am sad to say that Canadian broadcasters do not possess the interviewing style and techniques which make Newsnight so engaging.

You provided an invaluable, and irreplaceable programme.

With the podcast, I was able to pretend my recent departure from the UK was but another move - a bit further out.

Anyone knows what hard work it is to integrate a programme into people's habitual viewing.

You have done that with me and others all over the world...then stopped!

Is it beyond your expertise to assess after several months, whether it is a success or failure, and then to resume (as I presume it's the former) with little or no interruption?

What is really happening over there? Is it a cynical ploy to help us form this habit, then charge us later, or is someone over there so naive as to imagine such habits remain suspended in mid-air (or off-air) until you decide to recommence?

And, why do you think we've subscribed to your service?

Because, in spite of the sea of news sources - also free - Newsnight provides something we simply don't find elsewhere.

I occasionally try to note an interviewing or production technique for my own journalism here. But I will endure this loss as a viewer who deeply appreciates the journalism, language and creativity you bring - or brought - to us every week.

I thank you - for thanks are due.
But let this not be Adieu.
A bientot, plutot.

Kyle G. Brown

  • 32.
  • At 11:17 AM on 04 Aug 2007,
  • Martin wrote:

At a time when the BBC is losing the public's trust and is being over taken by other global news providers, this appears to be a bizarre decision to retreat from new technologies and new means of providing content.

Has the penny not dropped that demainding people turn on a tv at 10.30 every evening to watch is archaic and outdated, and not a little arrogant.

  • 33.
  • At 12:36 PM on 04 Aug 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

It is Saturday morning & no audio podcast! At least tell us the reason why. It was the audio listening highlight of my week. Hearing an interviewer insist on getting answers is a novelty here in the US. Please let it return. Clearly it is not a BBC policy as other podcasts are still available.

  • 34.
  • At 10:42 AM on 20 Aug 2007,
  • Conor Lennon wrote:

I went away, came back and found that the Newnight podcast had disappeared. I also don't have time to watch the broadcast programme and found the podcast an invaluable way to get quality news coverage that doesn't seem to exist anywhere else. I really hope you manage to bring it back and I'm sure it brought in a whole new audience.

Ready for this? I'm a very-regular read of the news site, but my husband just introduced me to the blogs... and this is the first I'd heard of a video podcast! Arrgh and Rats! What would it take to get 'em back???

  • 36.
  • At 11:26 AM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • jon wrote:

I am a regular watcher of the Newsnight Podcast and hope that it is continued. I do not find the streaming (Realplayer) that effective as it is dependent upon ADSL speeds and often it suffers from lags and slowness. However the podcast is different you may download and watch as-and-when required.

As a watcher of Newsnight since university - it is the only heavy weight hitting news programme that is available in the UK now (and while I cannot always make the 10.30 broadcast) I use the podcasts to catch-up on the news via laptop when travelling on business.

The Newsnight podcast is the right way forward, portable, flexable, and of high quality - I hope to see its return soon.


  • 37.
  • At 01:37 PM on 26 Nov 2007,
  • Alan Jackson wrote:

I can't believe the BBC has stopped the Newsnight podcast. What are they thinking? Podcasts are so obviously a part of the future of broadcasting and a perfectly suited to recurring shows, news, and media in the "long tail". I thought the BBC were keeping up and being innovative - the best content in the pod-o-sphere was the BBC's - and now they have stopped. This is daft. Why don't the BBC assess the trial WHILE IT IS STILL RUNNING. They are now going to lose the audience by stopping the trial. Bananas!

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