“Here is the News” 

7 September 2022 tbs.pm/76472


Cover of World-Radio

From World-Radio for 9 March 1934

(From a Special Correspondent)

THE answer to the question “What is news?” has varied from one decade to another. Half a century ago news mainly happened in other countries, and events of importance at home were frequently missed or deliberately ignored. Then, with the rise of the popular Press, news was anything out of the common, and comparatively trivial events were given a prominence which they did not deserve.

Broadcasting has helped to put news once more in its proper perspective. Accordingly, news bulletins do not consist of smart snippets, amusing trifles, or personalities. You never hear the announcer say: “I was lunching at the Ratz to-day and saw Poppy, Lady Tooting, sitting next to Jimmy Wriggle, the marvellous contortionist.” This, indeed, is one of the great services which broadcasting has rendered. It has interested many millions in the important affairs of life, by giving only news that is worth while, even if at times it must of necessity be dull.

News has many subdivisions, even in serious newspapers. There is, for example, the enormous amount of space devoted daily to stock exchange prices. This is undoubtedly news of the utmost importance to a limited section of the community. There is not much stock exchange intelligence broadcast in Britain, but in the United States, and even more on the Continent, it occupies a large place in the programmes. In Hong Kong, New York Stock Exchange quotations are given every fifteen minutes from 11 p.m.

Another subdivision of news is sport. Broadcasting, with its running commentaries, has entered into this sphere, and has been most successful. However, for the purpose of this article, news bulletins in the narrower sense of brief records of important events at home and abroad will be mainly considered.


Reuter tape machine

A Reuter Tape Machine as used by the B.B.C.


U.S.A. Developments

A few weeks ago the United States broadcasters were proclaiming the superiority of their service over that of other countries, but in the realm of news this claim cannot be substantiated. Until recently the networks had a brief evening news bulletin, and the private stations had occasional bulletins at times suitable for the localities served. A new arrangement regarding news has now been reached and came into force on March 1. At a series of conferences between representatives of newspapers, Press associations, and radio groups it was agreed that news should be broadcast for five minutes twice a day, morning and evening. Each news item will be limited to not more than thirty words. The only exceptions, which will be rare, will be on occasions of transcendent public importance when the public interests demand more information. In return for this concession the National Broadcasting Company and the Columbia Broadcasting System will retire from the field of news gathering.



Empire Activities

In Canada the position regarding news has also been regularised. An agreement was recently drawn up between the Canadian Radio Commission and the Press representatives. The Commission at first proposed to pay 6,000 dollars [C$126,600 today, allowing for inflation – Ed] a year for two five-minute broadcasts each day, but the Board of Directors of the Canadian Press refused to accept any payment for the bulletins. This step was taken not merely to safeguard the interests of the newspapers, but to put an end to the false and inaccurate news bulletins which were broadcast by some private stations. Now a station broadcasting misleading news may have its licence suspended. As a result of the arrangement there are now authenticated news bulletins broadcast at 5.55 p.m. and 7.30 p.m. by the Commission’s network.

In Australia there is usually a commercial news bulletin at lunch time, and frequently a general news bulletin. In the evening, about 7.30, and sometimes at 10.30, a news bulletin is sandwiched between commercial and sporting news. It is difficult to state precisely the time and extent of the news bulletins in Australia, but nearly every station tries to have a day and evening bulletin, even if only for five minutes. There is also frequent information about the arrival and departure of express trains.



In the South African programmes there is usually a lunch-hour news bulletin. From Cape Town at 1 p.m. there is a news summary in English and Afrikaans. There is also a lunch-hour news service from Johannesburg. There are one or more news bulletins in the evening in Afrikaans and in English. As there are often frequent comments on and interpretations of the news it can be stated that in this respect South Africa is as well provided for as any other part of the Empire.

In New Zealand there is one main news bulletin at 7 p.m. from all stations. Sports results may be given at any time.

News and other reports are an important part of the broadcasting service in India and Ceylon. Commercial intelligence is frequently broadcast at 7 a.m. From Bombay news is given in English at 8.45 p.m., and about 9 p.m. in Hindi. From Calcutta there is news in Bengali at 8.50 p.m., in Hindi at 9.5 p.m., and in English at 9.15 p.m. In Colombo there is a general news bulletin at noon on Sundays and at 8.30 p.m. on week days.

In Hong Kong shipping intelligence is an important part of the broadcast service. Shipping news is given at 8 a.m. and 1.35 p.m. Local news is given at 9.50 p.m.

European Bulletins

News is an important part of the Continental programmes. It is of special value to British listeners who are anxious to acquire knowledge of a foreign language. Such hours as are mentioned here are reduced to Greenwich Mean Time, and are approximate times only.

In Germany there are sometimes six ordinary news bulletins a day. Berlin, for example, transmits news at 5 a.m., 6.10 a.m., 9 a.m., 1.15 p.m., 7 p.m., and 9 p.m., and Hamburg at 5.15 a.m., 9 a.m., 1.15 p.m., and 9 p.m. Most German stations have several news bulletins daily. The fact that news can be broadcast four times before 2 p.m. from leading stations is an indication of the unity of control of the German Press and broadcasting. In some countries the Press is against such early broadcasting of news.

In France the listeners have not quite so keen an appetite for early morning news. The first bulletin is at 7.15 a.m. Poste Parisien transmits news again at 12.20 p.m., 7.15 p.m., and 11 p.m., while Radio-Paris, in addition to the 7.15 a.m. news, gives news at 1.0 pm., 7.50 p.m., and 9 p.m. Toulouse broadcasts news at 8.25 a.m., 12.30 p.m., 2 p.m., 4.15 p.m., 6 p.m., 7.15 p.m., 10.15 p.m., and 12 midnight, so that in both Paris and the Provinces there is an ample broadcast news service. On the other hand, in France newspaper circulations are much smaller than in England, and this may account for the demand for broadcast news at all hours.



Several countries, in addition to those mentioned, have general news bulletins in the morning. There is news from Warsaw at 6.45 a.m., Rome and Turin 7 a.m., Spanish stations 8 a.m., Budapest 8.45, Moscow 9 a.m., and Sottens [Switzerland] 11.30 a.m. Between 12 noon and 1 p.m. there are news bulletins from Belgrade, Bratislava, Madrid, Monte Ceneri [Switzerland], and Vienna. Between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. news is broadcast from Brussels and Juan-les-Pins [France]. Spain in particular has numerous news bulletins throughout the day. Again this is accounted for by the fact that there is no adequate newspaper service.

In the Scandinavian countries the stations do not seem to broadcast general news in the forenoon. They do, however, make extensive use of the microphone for the purpose of giving market prices.

The evening news bulletins from every country are too numerous to mention. One outstanding fact of this rapid survey of the situation is that in most European countries there seems to be no limit to the number of news bulletins which may be broadcast in a day, and no restrictions as to the time of the day at which the broadcasts may be made.


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