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From the Northern Echo, first published Saturday 3rd Jul 2004.

In the past year the BBC has been making the news rather than reporting it. The fallout of the Hutton inquiry led to the integrity of the BBC's respected news-gathering operation making the headlines.

The 50th anniversary of the BBC's first TV news bulletin provides a welcome opportunity to remind people of past achievements and reassert the place of BBC News around the world.

The three-part documentary, 50 Years Of BBC TV News, marks the occasion on BBC2. In The Picture pays tribute with a reminder of 50 news-worthy facts from half-a-century of BBC News.

1 The first-ever television news bulletin was transmitted at 7.30pm on July 5, 1954.

2 It went out after the cricket and before The Royals, a visit to the Royal Agricultural Show, Windsor.

3 The programme was called News And Newsreel and lasted 22 minutes.

4 It began with Richard Baker accouncing: "Here is an illustrated summary of the news. It will be followed by the latest film of events and happenings at home and abroad".

5 Baker didn't appear on screen because presenters, at that time, were heard and not seen.

6 Then John Snagge read the news.

7 The first report was on truce talks in Indo China.

8 Other items included French security measures in Tunisia, the end of rationing and a visit by Princess Margaret to Lancashire.

8 Kenneth Kendall became the first presenter to appear in vision in 1955.

9 The amount of time devoted to news on BBC TV more than doubled between 1954 and 1955.

10 Lack of an autocue machine meant correspondents were obliged to keep looking away from the camera to glance down at scripts, earning them the nickname "the guilty men".

11 A separate TV news department was set up before the arrival of commercial television in September 1955.

12 BBC newsreaders appeared on screen for the first time a few weeks before ITV launched.

13 Newsreading duties were shared between Richard Baker, Kenneth Kendall and Robert Dougall

14 "The newsreader, who appears night after night becomes almost a trusted friend," noted Robert Dougall.

15 The BBC clashed with the Conservative government over the 1956 Suez crisis. The government wanted the Corporation to give it total support. The BBC insisted on telling the whole story of a nation divided.

16 Coverage led to Prime Minister Anthony Eden accusing the BBC of "giving comfort to the enemy".

17 For the first time, TV audiences saw film of international news, including Soviet tanks firing on demonstrators in the streets of Budapest during the Hungarian uprising.

18 A BBC study group in 1959 criticised TV news as lacking style, clarity and crispness, and showing "little appreciation of the public's interests".

19 Newsroom, introduced in 1968, was BBC TV news' first half-hour bulletin, being shown at 7.30pm on BBC2.

20 Within weeks, the programme had switched from black-and-white to colour.

21 A man landed on the moon in 1969 as BBC TV news moved to Television Centre.

22 The final BBC1 bulletin from Alexandra Palace was read on Friday, September 19, 1969.

23 The Nine O'Clock News began nearly a year later.

24 The newsreader on that first evening, Robert Dougall, didn't like the set, described by one newspaper as "a sort of polystyrene padded cell".

25 The first female newsreader, Angela Rippon, was introduced in 1975.

26 Rippon famously showed her legs when she danced on The Morecambe And Wise Show.

27 Her first black counterpart, Moira Stewart, first appeared six years later.

28 The two Johns - Humphrys and Simpson - joined The Nine O'Clock News in 1981 as the first journalist presenters.

29 Michael Buerk's coverage of the Ethiopia famine in 1984 inspired Bob Geldof to organise Live Aid.

30 Lesbian activists disrupted the Six O'Clock News in 1988. Nicholas Witchell sat on one intruder, while Sue Lawley continued with the news.

31 The Nine O'Clock News moved to a later slot in October 2000.

32 Newsnight debuted on BBC2 at the start of 1980 - a week late because of trade union objections.

33 BBC1's Six O'Clock News first appeared in September 1984.

34 The One O'Clock News was broadcast for the first time on October 27, 1986 - the same day that Aussie soap Neighbours was launched.

35 The BBC World news channel, aimed at a global TV audience, was originally called World Service Television.

36 The channel, which was reaching 24 million homes around the world, rebranded to its present form as BBC World in January 1995.

37 By the end of 2002, it was reaching 222 million homes across 200 countries and territories.

38 BBC News 24 became the Corporation's first digital channel in 1997.

39 The difficult launch, it was reported, reduced staff to "gibbering digital wrecks" by the "over-ambitious use of new technology".

40 Presentation put an emphasis on informality and accessibility and presenters, for the first time in BBC news history, were jacketless.

41 Things were reversed two years later when the channel was relaunched.

42 Audiences to News 24 reached an all-time high during the Iraq war.

43 While simulcasting on BBC1 and BBC2, the service was watched by 23 million people on one day alone.

44 Four years ago, shifting the Nine O'Clock News to 10pm was criticised by politicians and ITV alike.

45 Television news, alongside radio news and current affairs, comes under the umbrella of BBC News, the largest broadcast news operation in the world.

46 The organisation has more than 2,000 journalists and over 40 newsgathering bureaux, most of which are overseas.

47 Television News is responsible for more than 18,000 hours of programming every year.

48 The department is also responsible for the BBC's two continuous news channels, BBC News 24 and BBC World.

49 Between April and June 2003, the main daily news programmes on BBC1 and BBC2 reached 24.2m viewers per week.

50 Years Of BBC TV News is on BBC2 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday

Published: ??/??/2004

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