From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A news ticker (sometimes referred to as a "crawler") is a small screen space on news television networks dedicated to headlines or minor pieces of news. Usually, news stations will have the bottom tenth of the screen devoted to a horizontally scrolling banner giving brief descriptions of news stories.
News ticker also refers to a long, thin scoreboard-style display sometimes seen around the front of office or public buildings, known as a "zipper."
The name "ticker" comes from the paper ticker tape machines, which once printed news onto a moving paper tape.
TV news tickers
Financial news channels often have two or more tickers progressing at different speeds, normally displaying stock prices. Networks that focus on sports often use a slightly different system, where the scores and status of current and finished games are displayed one by one, along with minor sports highlights.
The first record of a news ticker as part of a regular broadcast is from NBC's Today show on its debut edition, January 14, 1952. Without the benefit of computer-generated headlines and graphics, the ticker was vastly different than the one we would know today. The Today ticker was an actual piece of paper with typewritten headlines superimposed on the lower third of the screen. The ticker was never very successful as a communications tool, and was dropped not long thereafter.
One of the first networks to regularly utilize a ticker was CNN Headline News. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the ticker featured stock prices during the daytime, and sports scores during the evening and weekend. CNBC also debuted a ticker featuring stock prices during business hours. By the mid-1980s, ESPN featured an update ticker at the top and bottom of each hour, scrolling up-to-the-minute sports scores and news. By 1996, spin-off network ESPN2 debuted a ticker, dubbed the "BottomLine," which featured non-stop sports scores and news nearly twenty-four hours a day. ESPNEWS, when it debuted in 1996, became the first network to keep their ticker going during commercial breaks.
While tickers had been used occasionally by other networks over the years, it was the September 11 attacks of 2001 that made the ticker a ubiquitous part of the television news experience. Needing a way to provide a continuous stream of vital but repetitive emergency information to viewers, Fox News Channel placed a ticker on-screen at 10:49 a.m. CNN launched its own ticker at 11:11 a.m., and MSNBC started one at approximately 2:00 p.m. Although the need for attack-related tickers lasted only a few weeks, the management at all three major U.S. news channels quickly decided that news tickers would help increase viewership amongst younger viewers with shorter attention spans and the ability to process multiple simultaneous streams of information. As a result, the tickers have been permanent features on all three channels ever since (though MSNBC currently drops its ticker during prime time programming). On the 5th anniversary of 9/11, CNN replaced the ticker with a repeated list of the names of the 9/11 attack fatalities.
MSNBC's sister network CNBC ran a news ticker for a time after the 9/11 attacks (usually containing the same data as MSNBC's ticker), but since that channel also runs two stock price tickers, this third ticker was eventually dropped to save screen space.
Local TV stations often use tickers during severe weather to provide information about storms and areas effected by them.
The use of news tickers was parodied on an episode of The Simpsons from 2003 (Mr. Spritz Goes to Washington), as well as a sketch on Saturday Night Live. Films such as Austin Powers in Goldmember sometimes place jokes within news crawls seen on screen.
In February of 2004, a news ticker on News 14 Carolina was hacked to display humorous messages, including the infamous "All your base are belong to us."
Building news tickers
The most famous news ticker display is the "zipper" that circles One Times Square in New York City. The New York Times erected the first such display in 1928, and now several buildings in midtown Manhattan feature such a display. A similar display appears on the exterior of the Fox News/News Corporation headquarters in the west extension of Manhattan's Rockefeller Center. Another ticker, displaying the latest stock details, is also located in Times Square.
The new Reuters building at Canary Wharf also has a news ticker and stock ticker for the NYSE, NASDAQ and LSE.
When NBC renovated 10 Rockefeller Center to accommodate the Today show in 1994, a red-LED ticker was added to the perimeter of the building at the juncture of the first and second floors. The ticker is visible to spectators in Rockefeller Plaza and passersby on West 49th Street and updates continuously, even when the show is off the air.
Digital on-screen graphic