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BBC News to streamline output during coronavirus outbreak

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Fiona Bruce presenting Question Time

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Question Time will move to a new slot during the pandemic

The BBC has announced a number of changes to its news output in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

Programmes including Politics Live and Victoria Derbyshire have been temporarily suspended, allowing the BBC News Channel to focus on “core news”.

Question Time, which sees political figures and commentators take questions from the public, will move to a prime time 20:00 slot on BBC One.

However, it will proceed without a studio audience for the time being.

The practicalities of putting questions to the panel during this period is “still being worked on”, BBC media editor Amol Rajan said.

Flagship programmes like Breakfast, the News at Six and News at Ten, which have seen ratings increase during the coronavirus outbreak, will be unaffected.

‘Unprecedented and difficult days’

Newsnight and The Andrew Marr Show will remain on air but will be operated by fewer technical staff; while The Andrew Neil Show, Newswatch and The Travel Show will be suspended. Hardtalk will also be suspended from next week.

Radio news will see fewer changes initially; although news summaries on Radios 2, 3, 4 and 5 Live will be combined into a single output from Friday.

The Americast, Beyond Today and The Next Episode podcasts will be suspended; while Newscast will become the BBC Coronavirus podcast for the foreseeable future.

Announcing the changes to staff, the BBC’s director of news, Fran Unsworth, said: “These are unprecedented and difficult days.

“Trusted, accurate information is vital in a public health emergency and the BBC has a key role to play.

“We will continue offering our audience a continuous news service on TV, radio and online but this will look a bit different in the weeks ahead.”

Further changes to news output are expected to be announced later in the week, with plans split into “further phases as the virus spreads,” said Rajan.

“Like many organisations we are unable to have all our staff on site due to the coronavirus outbreak,” added Unsworth.

“We are therefore making some changes to what we do to streamline our output to ensure we can work with fewer people and protect the staff who are at work.”

  • Line of Duty filming suspended over coronavirus
  • TV soaps ‘to remind viewers about hand-washing’

Other TV shows, including ITV’s Loose Women and Channel 5’s Jeremy Vine, have already opted to film without a studio audience as the virus spreads; while filming on dramas like Peaky Blinders and Line of Duty has been suspended. The Bafta TV Awards have been postponed until later in the year.

In the US, Sunday’s debate between prospective presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden was also conducted without a studio audience, for the first time since 1976.

Media reports were broadly in favour of the format, enforced though it was, saying it improved the quality of debate because the candidates stopped playing to the crowd.

“The question of who won could be decided less by how the candidates performed and more by what they said.” wrote Slate’s Fred Kaplan.

“After the coronavirus scare is over, all debates should be done this way.”

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Minneapolis unrest: CNN reporter arrested live on air

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A CNN correspondent and members of his crew were arrested while broadcasting about violent protests in Minneapolis.

There were demonstrations in the city for a third night following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in police custody on Monday.

The Minneapolis State Patrol confirmed the arrests and said those detained were released “once they were confirmed to be members of the media”.

But CNN disputed the police’s account of the incident, saying its staff had “identified themselves, on live television, immediately as journalists”.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz later apologised for the arrests.

Watch the full story on CNN YouTube channel.



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Harvey Weinstein: Four more women accuse producer of assault

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Harvey WeinsteinImage copyright
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Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison earlier this year

Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein has been accused of sexual assault by four further women as he serves a 23-year prison sentence.

Court documents filed in New York on Thursday allege several sexual offences dating from 1984 to 2013.

One of the four anonymous women was 17 at the time of an alleged attack.

Weinstein’s legal representative told BBC News: “Mr Weinstein intends to defend against the claims filed anonymously against him yesterday.”

The lawyer, Imran H Ansari of Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins PC, added: “Some of these claims, including those alleged to have occurred in the 1980s and 1990s, may be barred by the applicable statute of limitations, and not subject to any exceptions under the law, as these plaintiffs do not appear to be complainants in Mr Weinstein’s criminal case.”

  • Weinstein convicted of rape and sexual assault
  • How the Harvey Weinstein scandal unfolded

The latest legal cases allege multiple sexual offences against four women, who currently reside in Tennessee, New York, Ecuador and Hungary.

Some of the attacks allegedly took place after meetings with Weinstein at the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals.

The new allegations include:

  • A 43-year-old woman from Tennesee claims that in 1994, when she was 17, Weinstein “falsely imprisoned, sexually assaulted, sexually battered and raped her” in his hotel room. The plaintiff, who wanted to break into the entertainment industry, alleges Weinstein demanded she perform oral sex on him.
  • A 70-year-old woman from Ecuador claims that in 1984, when she was 34, Weinstein allegedly pinned her against a door and fondled her in his hotel room in Cannes, when she was looking to start a career as a documentary filmmaker.
  • A 38-year old woman said she met Weinstein in Manhattan in 2008 and he offered to “help take her career to the next level”. He allegedly raped her in his Soho apartment a few days later, telling her he would ruin her if she told anyone.
  • A 35-year-old woman from Hungary claims that in 2013, when she was 26, she met Weinstein at the Venice Film Festival. A few months later, he allegedly forced her to perform oral sex on him when she met him in a hotel room.

Allegations against Weinstein began to emerge in October 2017, when The New York Times first reported incidents dating back decades.

At least 80 women have since accused him of sexual misconduct, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Uma Thurman and Salma Hayek.

The allegations were at the centre of the #MeToo movement that inspired women to go public with misconduct allegations against powerful men.

Weinstein issued an apology acknowledging he had “caused a lot of pain”, but denied any allegations of non-consensual sex.

In February, Weinstein was convicted in New York City of third-degree rape and first-degree criminal sexual act, and later sentenced to 23 years in jail.

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Remi Wolf on how she makes music videos in lockdown

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Music videos are often big budget affairs filmed in glamorous locations with a cast and crew to rival a movie. But what happens when a pandemic strikes and everyone is told to practise social distancing and not leave their home?

Rising star Remi Wolf told the BBC’s Sophie van Brugen how she got around the problem, and what coronavirus could mean for the future of the music video.



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