June 2013 Newsletter
Welcome to IBT’s June newsletter with a brief update on our work and relevant news from the media industry. (Print this Newsletter – pdf)
Next briefing will be with Sky News foreign editor Tim Miller
Our next event will be a briefing and networking event with Tim Miller who runs the foreign desk at Sky News. Sky News has a strong track record of covering a wider range of international stories than other UK broadcasters and Tim is keen to have good working relationships with NGOs. He’ll be talking about the sort of international stories he’s looking for, opportunities for live interviews, how best to pitch and who to pitch to. This is a free event for IBT members only. It will take place at 10am on Friday June 28th at the IBT offices in Southwark. Places need to be booked in advance. To secure your place, please email me by the end of the day on Friday June 7th.
Last month’s briefing with Panorama editor Tom Giles
Last month, we held a briefing with Tom Giles, the editor of Panorama. Tom’s background is in international news. He’s worked for the World Service and he spoke about his commitment to international stories. He commissions 40 half hour episodes and 7 or 8 one hour specials each year – roughly a quarter of these are international. He’s keen that Panorama should have a strong investigative element and have its own agenda, not follow the agenda set by BBC News. More detailed notes of the meeting are available to all IBT members.
Why Poverty – where next?
Also last month, we co-hosted a debate with the ODI and Open University, looking at the lessons to be learnt from the BBC’s Why Poverty season. The season of documentaries was a unique attempt to engage mainstream television audiences with the issue of global poverty and the films were broadcast in 72 countries. The goal was to stimulate a global debate about poverty in developed and developing countries. Nick Fraser, the BBC’s series producer gave a frank description of his hopes and how they were not realised. There then followed an animated discussion about where the season succeeded and where it failed, with IBT contributing its view. The consensus was that the BBC did not give sufficiently strong backing to the season, particularly in terms of slots and marketing. A video of the meeting is available to view on the ODI website as well as some notes on what the speakers said.
Public engagement with aid – new think piece from Involve
Involve, the charity which specialises in public participation, has published a new paper called Resetting the Aid Relationship which looks at how DFID and others could be more effective in promoting public engagement with aid by following the example of the science community. The paper includes a number of practical steps which could be taken to achieve a more meaningful engagement of the public in the debate about international aid. Simon Burall, the Director of Involve and one of the authors of the paper, spoke at our Why Poverty event.
The IBT AGM will take place later this month, at 5pm on Thursday June 20th at the IBT offices in Southwark. This is a short but important meeting. We will be electing a new group of Trustees as we have now completed the changes to our governance. IBT has been set up as an unincorporated charity with a simpler Trust deed. We are still a membership based organisation and it is the members who elect the Trustees, so please come along and have your say. We try to make proceedings as informal as possible and everyone from a member organisation is welcome to attend. See here for a full list of members.
CBBC and CBeebies
We have submitted evidence to the BBC Trust’s review of children’s services and content. Our submission has praised the BBC for increasing the amount of international content available on both CBBC and CBeebies. At the time of the last Trust review of children’s services, in 2009, we were very critical of the BBC’s track record in this area. As a result, the Trust recommended that the service licence for CBeebies be amended to make a specific reference to fulfilling the global purpose – and this subsequently took place. This change to the licence was the direct result of our lobbying effort and it’s clear that it has had an impact. There are a now a number of new programmes on both CBBC and CBeebies with international themes. In our latest submission we have also noted the BBC’s continuing commitment to Blue Peter and Newsround but we have recommended that the Trust review budgets on Newsround so that more foreign filming can take place. Our submission can be found here.
We’ve also been involved in another BBC Trust review – of its online and red button services. Although BBC Online had been given a target to double the number of click-throughs from BBC sites to external content, it is unlikely to meet this target. This was an issue which we raised in our submission, as BBC Online, particularly BBC News and BBC Sport are significant drivers of audiences to other sites. We’d like to see the BBC doing more in this area and also improving the quality of its curating of external content. There is often a reluctance to connect to NGO sites which are seen as campaigning. The Trust has now instructed BBC Online to ‘continue to increase the number of external click-throughs, and make them more effective and consistent.’ The full report is here.
Open City Docs Fest takes place in London from June 20-23 at a range of venues including UCL. There are a number of UK premieres and many films which feature global issues. The controversial film The Act of Killing will be followed by a Q and A with director Joshua Oppenheimer. This film has re-enacted a massacre which took place in Indonesia in 1965, with the perpetrators playing themselves.
Africa Gathering celebrates its fifth anniversary with a conference looking at innovation and opportunities for investment in African technology, with a special focus on the role of women. The event will take place from June 21-22 at BBC Broadcasting House.
PhotoVoice is organising a one day conference to look at how NGOs use images to represent developing world issues and people. It takes place on June 8 at Rich Mix in east London.
We’re delighted to welcome two new organisations as members of IBT, International HIV/AIDS Alliance and Malaria No More UK. If you’re interested in joining or know of an organisation or individual who is, here is a link to our leaflet for potential new members.
Finally, I am very sorry to have to announce the sudden and unexpected death of Malcolm Harper, a long time Trustee and friend of IBT and a former Chair of the Trustees. Malcolm made a huge contribution to IBT over many years, finally stepping down as a Trustee last year. As The Times noted in its obituary ‘In a career divided between Oxfam and the United Nations Association, Malcolm Harper devoted his life to humanitarian causes and respect for international law.’ It was always a pleasure dealing with Malcolm and I am very grateful for the support and encouragement which he gave me. He will be greatly missed.