BBC Trust on Review of News and Current Affairs

Ritchie Cogan
Ritchie Cogan 12th December 2013

The panel: (left to right) Simon Murphy, Tracy McVeigh, Tim Singleton, Sara Pantuliano, Patrick Gathara, Halima Begum and Mark Galloway.



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Executive Summary

  1. In general terms IBT commends the BBC for its delivery of news and current affairs.

  2. IBT research demonstrates that BBC News, along with other UK News providers, tends to cover the same, relatively narrow, international agenda in terms of topics, countries and original stories and they adopt a similar treatment and use of pictures to report the biggest international stories. We would like to see the BBC widen its range of stories to include more original journalism and unique stories.

  3. IBT research shows that both the Six O’Clock News and the Ten O’Clock News have maintained the number of stories in their bulletins and the number of countries they cover since 2009 and we welcome this.

  4. However, the amount of air time dedicated to foreign stories on the evening bulletins has decreased.  We would urge the BBC Trust and Executive to investigate this further. One of the defining features of the Ten O’Clock News, in particular, over many years has been its international coverage; if this coverage is now occupying a smaller part of the bulletin on a regular basis, then this is a worrying trend.

  5. IBT welcomes the integration of World Service staff into the main BBC News operation in the hope that this process will lead to an inherently more global perspective in UK news.

  6. IBT would like there to be a greater diversity of voices on BBC News. Our research shows that experts and commentators are the dominant voices in BBC News bulletins and we would like the BBC to provide a range of opinions from people directly involved in a story and not just reflect the consensus of opinion.

  7. IBT would like to see Newsnight provide an alternative source of information to the main bulletin at 10pm on BBC One, rather than primarily providing a platform for discussion of the main stories as covered in the news.  If it is going to cover one of the major stories of the day it needs to add public value to the BBC’s news provision.

  8. IBT congratulates the BBC on its current affairs provision which has improved significantly since the BBC Trust Review of BBC One, Two and Four in 2009. IBT welcomes the strategy to broaden the appeal of current affairs by including both ‘hard’ current affairs (investigations such as Panorama’s Undercover Care) and ‘soft’ current affairs (Simon Reeve’s travel programmes) in its prime time schedule.

  9. On BBC One Panorama is more engaging and the journalism and filmmaking of a higher quality than previously. BBC Two’s strategy to be the channel with the most distinctive international current affairs seems to be working well and we welcome this. And BBC Three continues to be the home of engaging, informative current affairs which provide an alternative to more traditional content in this genre.

  10. We would like to see the strategy to engage a wider audience with a range of different types of current affairs programming which covers a range of subjects and countries to continue and encourage the BBC to do all it can to constantly innovate, question and be risk-taking with its current affairs output.

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