August 2014 Newsletter

Ritchie Cogan
Ritchie Cogan 5th August 2014

Welcome to IBT’s August newsletter with a brief update on our work and relevant news from the media industry.    (Print this Newsletter)


HIV and stigma – the media challenge

Next month we’ll be launching our new research report which looks at HIV and stigma – and examines the role the media can play in tackling stigma. The report includes recommendations as to how the media can play a more effective role – and how NGOs can work with the media to achieve this. The launch will take place at 6pm on Tuesday September 2nd at the House of Commons. It will be a joint event with the All Party Parliamentary Group on HIV and AIDS. We have a distinguished panel which includes Anne Soy, BBC correspondent in Kenya; Garth Japhet, the founder of Soul City and Winnie Ssanyu Sseruma, an HIV activist. Sophie Chalk, the author of the report, will present her findings. This is a public event but places need to be booked in advance via the IBT website. IBT members will be given priority.


BBC Trust gives its verdict on BBC television

The BBC Trust has published the findings of its review of BBC television – to which IBT submitted evidence. The verdict on BBC1, 2, 3 and 4 is broadly positive. All four channels are distinctive and well regarded by audiences. However, the Trust noted that BBC1 has a tendency to play safe and needs to take more risks. The Trust also said that the tv channels need to make more effort to reach younger and more diverse audiences. Interestingly, the Trust’s verdict on BBC3 was very positive, given that there are plans to turn BBC3 into an online only channel (although these plans are yet to be approved by the Trust).


Channel 4 News reaches more diverse audience

Ben de Pear, the editor of Channel 4 News, has said that the programme attracts a younger and more diverse audience than any other tv news bulletin. BAMEs make up 23% of their audience; and 20% are aged 16-34. Ben acknowledged that a priority for the show has been to represent the UK’s ethnic minorities on the screen and they have also been trying hard to increase the number of female experts, following a campaign by City University and Broadcast magazine.


House of Lords inquiry will look at expert women

The House of Lords Select Committee on Communications has announced that its next inquiry will look at the level of female representation across news broadcasting. The Committee will look at the representation of women in television, radio news and current affairs in terms of employment, casting and participation. Written evidence needs to be submitted before October 1st.


 Competition gathers pace at the BBC

In a well-publicized speech on the future of the licence fee, Tony Hall, the BBC’s Director General has laid down a new mantra of ‘compete and compare’. This will mean the introduction of greater competition in production, where appropriate, and signals the beginning of the BBC’s attempt to reposition itself ahead of the Charter renewal debate which will take place in 2015, after the general election.


BBC rejects complaint by Lord Lawson 

The BBC has rejected a claim by Lord Lawson that he has been banned from appearing on because of his views on climate change. However, the BBC’s editorial unit has ruled that it was wrong for the Today programme to give Lawson equal billing with Professor Sir Brian Hoskins in an interview on climate change and flooding in February. The unit has ruled that ‘a false balance was created in that the item implied Lord Lawson’s views on climate science were on the same footing as those of Sir Brian Hoskins.’  In a statement, the BBC said: ‘Our position continues to be that we accept that there is a broad scientific agreement on climate change and we reflect this accordingly. We do however on occasion offer space to dissenting voices where appropriate as part of the BBC’s overall commitment to impartiality.’


Climate Asia project publishes its data

Climate Asia, the BBC Media Action research project, has launched a data portal which gives detailed information on its research findings. The site contains a wealth of useful information on how people in a number of Asian countries view climate change, where they get their information from and how they could be helped to do more to adapt.



Humanitarian response in acute emergencies criticized

In a provocatively titled report, Where is everyone? MSF has analysed the humanitarian response to a number of emergencies in three hard to reach locations – South Sudan, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and Jordan, in 2012-13. The report concludes that in these emergencies, humanitarian responses have been ‘slow and cumbersome, and lack impact.’ The report has also criticized agencies for evacuating staff and downgrading programmes in acute emergencies. Its conclusion is that ‘most agencies are concentrating only on the easiest to reach populations and ignoring the more difficult places.’ The report prompted an attack on ‘cash-swollen charities’ by Ian Birrell in The Guardian’s comment pages.



Media for development – where’s the evidence?

BBC Media Action has published a new briefing that examines how the media for development sector is addressing the need to produce evidence of its impact. The paper notes that the sector does not have a long history of research or evaluation so presenting evidence of impact can be challenging. The briefing concludes that ‘media for development interventions often do not produce rapid, readily measurable and easily monetisable outcomes. The social change which media for development aims to make is more incremental, less tangible and often not fixed.’ This is an issue which we also consider in our forthcoming report HIV and stigma – the media challenge.


The future of humanitarian reporting

City University has now published the papers which were presented at its conference earlier this year on the future of humanitarian reporting. The conference looked at how NGOs and the media are adapting to the changing media landscape and the impact of this on the reporting of disasters.


Best wishes



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