Did the BBC Report There Was ‘No News’ on April 18, 1930?

Sometimes all the news doesn't fit because it's too small.

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Image via Stokkete / Shutterstock

Claim

On April 18, 1930, the BBC's evening report stated there was 'no news' for that day.

Origin

The arc of news coverage carried by broadcast media over the last century has seen news reporting evolve from short segments offered a few times per day, to longer segments presented multiple times per day, to several different types of news programs aired throughout the day, to the rise of 24/7 radio and cable TV news outlets.

One aspect of broadcast news coverage that has remained constant across that timespan is finding enough of it to fill the requisite airtime. It isn’t just a modern problem, as exemplified by this meme holding that the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) could find no news at all for its evening report of April 18, 1930:

BBC News

The BBC itself vets this claim as true, stating that:

On 18 April 1930, the BBC’s news announcer had nothing to communicate. “There is no news,” was the script of the 20:45 news bulletin, before piano music was played for the rest of the segment.

As always, the more interesting element of this item is to understand the context behind it.

Back in the 1930s, both broadcast radio and the BBC were in still their infancy, having begun only in the previous few years. As the BBC’s program index from April 18, 1930, shows, programming in that era was quite limited and sparse.

A mere 15 minutes was devoted to reporting the news of the day back then. That was because, in large part, the ability of radio stations to cover news outside of their local areas was quite limited, leaving them heavily dependent upon wire services and government announcements for news content. On a day when no government announcements were forthcoming and little of interest was moving across the news service wires, radio programmers might very well have felt that there was “no news” worth relaying to their audience.

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Sources

BBC News.   “‘There Is No News’: What a Change from 1930 to Today.”
    18 April 2017.

BBC News.   “Technological Changes in the Newsroom.”
    Accessed 29 June 2021.