December 2016 Newsletter

Mashudul 2nd December 2016

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


Welcome to IBT’s December newsletter with an update on our work and relevant news from the media industry.   (Download/Print this Newsletter)

Climate change on television 

Today we are launching our new report Climate Change on Television – what the Paris Agreement means for broadcasters. In the report we look at the track record of mainstream television in covering climate change and related issues, a year on from the historic UN agreement in Paris. Broadcasters are successfully incorporating climate change messaging in some popular programmes like Planet Earth 2 and commissioning some important new content such as Hugh’s War on Waste. There are signs that these are issues that are increasingly being prioritised by broadcasters. But the report calls on TV commissioners to experiment and take more risks, given the importance and urgency of building public awareness. Do share the report with friends and colleagues and let us have your comments on it. You can read it here

Climate change round table 

This morning we held a round table with broadcasters, independent producers and a range of experts, to discuss the findings of the report. It was a constructive meeting in which the broadcasters disclosed their future programming plans. It was rare to see all the main broadcasters – the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky and Discovery – coming together to talk about one issue. Something which emerged from the discussion was that commissioners and producers said they would like to have a clearer understanding of what the priority areas should be for individual action by the UK public. We are planning to follow this up with some briefing events in which policy experts share this information with producers.

Briefing with Channel 4 News

Last month we held a briefing with Jon Laurence, Digital Editor on Channel 4 News. It was fascinating to hear from Jon about his strategy and the way he has built a substantial young online audience for Channel 4 News with video content on Facebook. This content includes cut down versions of features running on the evening news show but also packages using external content which may come from news agencies or NGOs. Infographics are popular too. Jon showed us some of the most watched videos, and talked us through key lessons about the sort of content that young people watch and share. Jon’s team produces around 60 videos a week and many receive 2 or 3m views. A briefing note on this event can be found on the members’ page of the IBT website.

Briefing with Today

Our next briefing will be in the new year with John Shields, the Assistant Editor of Radio 4’s Today programme. John is responsible for planning and will talk us through how best to pitch ideas to him and his colleagues and the sort of ideas and studio guests they are looking for. Today is of course the most popular news programme in the UK, reaching a weekly audience of more than 7 million. It will be interesting to see how it changes under its new editor, now that Jamie Angus has announced that he is stepping down. This event will be held at the IBT offices at 10am on Tuesday January 24th. You can register now via the IBT website.

Changes at BBC News

James Harding, the BBC’s Director of News has announced that BBC News will shift its focus to provide more analysis and explanation. Harding told BBC staff last month that the BBC is ‘extremely good at reporting the what but we need to be better at the why.’ To aid the strategy, the present BBC News will be divided into two divisions: BBC News for daily news content and BBC Stories for analytical content and the stories of human experience. These changes are very welcome. IBT has been urging the BBC to shift its focus away from the big story of the day and to increase the range of its news content. We also understand that BBC News is looking for ways of telling more positive news stories that have the potential to be empowering, as they feel these are the sort of stories that appeal to younger audiences.

Expansion of the BBC World Service

Fran Unsworth, Director of the World Service has announced that the BBC will launch 11 new language services following an injection of extra money from the Government. This means that the World Service will now broadcast in 40 languages. The expansion will also include extended news bulletins in Russian, enhanced TV services across Africa, more resources for BBC Arabic and for broadcasts aimed at audiences in North Korea. Many of the new resources reflect the Government’s political and foreign policy priorities. The World Service, like the rest of BBC News, will also shift resources to provide more analysis and explanation.

Jagdish Gundara

It is with great sadness that I announce the death of Jagdish Gundara, after a long illness. Jagdish was one of the founders of IBT and served for many years as a Trustee. He stepped down from his role at IBT in 2012. Jagdish held the UNESCO Chair in International Studies and Teacher Education and was Emeritus Professor of Education at the Institute of Education. We will all remember him as someone who was immensely kind and supportive. He will be greatly missed.

Best wishes


IBT’s mission is to use the media to further awareness and understanding of people’s lives in the developing world and the issues which affect them


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