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Greenslade: Why the BBC Trust was wrong to find against Panorama

Yesterday we reported on the BBC Trust ruling that Panorama had broken editorial guidelines of fairness and accuracy in its programme Primark: On The Rack.

The BBC was ordered to make an on-air apology over the documentary, which was broadcast in June 2008, after the Trust said the programme contained footage that was likely not genuine.

Roy Greenslade said the Trust’s decision was “baffling”.

It goes against natural justice to find against the journalist and producers on what it calls “the balance of probabilities.”

Dan McDougall is an intrepid, award-winning investigative reporter with a superb record in exposing human rights violations.

Frank Simmonds is an experienced producer who has been responsible for many important revelatory Panorama programmes.

Yet this so-called judgment – which requires the corporation to apologise for the documentary – puts a black mark against their names on the most tenuous of grounds.

Having studied the report, I believe the Trust has got this wholly wrong.

Full post on Greenslade’s blog at this link.

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Media release: BBC Trust approves greater international focus for Worldwide

April 28th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Business, Editors' pick

The BBC Trust has approved a new strategy for BBC Worldwide to include a greater focus on international opportunities.

In a release published by the trust today, it confirmed that a new strategy was approved for BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the broadcaster, in March.

This follows an 18 month-long review of the BBC’s commercial activities, setting out changes to the future remit of BBC Worldwide.

The BBC Executive’s strategy for BBC Worldwide is now to develop a more integrated and ‘balanced’ internationally-focused portfolio that, within the agreed parameters, balances the need for growth with acceptable levels of risk. BBC Worldwide should also seek to invest in growth businesses which offer new rights monetisation opportunities.

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BBC Trust to review broadcaster’s news channel, 5 Live, and local radio

April 1st, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Broadcasting

The BBC Trust will undertake reviews of the BBC News channel, BBC Parliament, Radio 5 Live, Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, the Asian Network and BBC local radio in England within the coming year, it announced today. All BBC services are reviewed on a five-yearly basis by the Trust and this year will see the turn of the above stations.

The National Audit office is being brought in to review the value for money of the BBC’s efficiency savings and the cost of overheads.

The broadcaster is facing a tough year ahead after a freeze in the licence fee until 2017 and planning to take on additional responsibilities, including for funding the World Service, BBC Monitoring and the Welsh-language channel S4C.

The BBC plan pledges to focus on quality and to be more transparent about top-level pay and expenses.

Every BBC programme (or piece of online content) should have a distinctive BBC quality, displaying at least one of the following: high editorial standards; creative and editorial ambition; range and depth; and UK focused content and indigenous talent.

The BBC needs to do more to address concerns about making effective use of the licence fee, particularly in relation to talent costs and top management pay and expenses.

See the BBC Trust’s work plan at this link

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Diane Coyle ‘preferred candidate’ for vice chairman of the BBC Trust

March 24th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Politics

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has agreed to appoint Diane Coyle as vice chairman of the BBC Trust, the department for culture, media and sport said today,

According to a release this followed an open recruitment process and Hunt has now submitted his recommendation to Privy Council to seek the Queen’s formal approval of the appointment.

Coyle, a former economics editor of the Independent, is already a serving member of the BBC Trust.

In a statement, outgoing BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons said he welcomed the confirmation that Coyle had been put forward for the role.

“Diane has made an important contribution to the work of the Trust in its first four years, particularly in leading the Trust’s work on public value. I’m sure that in this expanded role Diane will be looking forward to the opportunity to bring her wisdom, insight and consistent good humour to even more of the Trust’s work.”

Earlier this month Lord Patten was approved by the Culture, Media and Sport select committee as a “suitable candidate” for the role of chairman of the BBC Trust after being named as the government’s preferred candidate in February.

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BBC Internet Blog: Domains earmarked for closure by the end of the year

January 25th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

The BBC Trust published a report yesterday which revealed that up to 360 posts within BBC Online are to be cut by 2013, as part of a 25 per cent budget reduction within the division.

The Trust’s report included reference to detailed plans to halve the number of ‘top level domains’ (TLDs), e.g. bbc.co.uk/xxx.

Following the announcement managing editor of BBC Online, Ian Hunter, has published a post on the BBC Internet blog outlining progress in the restructure so far, such as decisions on how best to manage legacy content from sites which have become out of date.

You can read more here, where Hunter also provides a useful link to a list of TLDs which are earmarked for closure before the end of the year.

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Jeremy Dear: ‘Self-harm – there should be a BBC website about that’

March 30th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Editors' pick, Jobs

National Union of Journalists (NUJ) general secretary Jeremy Dear has strongly criticised the BBC Trust and the corporation’s strategic review of its online activities in a post on his blog.

He describes the Trust’s decision to delay the launch of BBC iPhone apps as a move to “prostrate themselves before the commercial sector”, before suggesting that the proposed changes to the BBC’s websites don’t add up:

They are going to cut 25 per cent of staff – and yet every time they are asked which sites and which staff, they refer to mothballed sites, links that just redirect or pages that haven’t been updated since 2006. So we ask the question again – come clean. Which sites and which staff are to be axed. You are paid lots of money. You’ve had months to come up with the plan. So tell us. Or do you intend to wait until the consultation is over, then spring it on staff and readers.

Full post at this link…

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National Audit Office’s report on BBC’s building projects expected Thursday

February 23rd, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Business

The National Audit Office’s (NAO) report into the BBC’s expenditure on its recent building projects – the redevelopment of Broadcasting House in London and the construction of Pacific Quay in Glasgow and Salford Quay in Greater Manchester – will be published on Thursday.

The report, which was commissioned by the BBC Trust, will be available in full on the Trust’s website and the NAO site from Thursday, it has been confirmed to Journalism.co.uk, despite reports suggesting it would be released today.

MediaGuardian anticipates the findings of the report at this link and claims the ‘West One’ development of Broadcasting House is already £59 million over its original £1 billion budget.

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BBC review of online activities: a better deal for local media?

November 25th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Editors' pick

The BBC Trust has published more details of the strategic review of the corporation’s activities, which it announced in July, led by director-general Mark Thompson.

One focus point of the review will be ‘streamlining the BBC’s online services’ to ‘narrow the focus on distinctive content and help to create a more open BBC’, the Trust said in a release yesterday.

This includes considering which online services could be stopped

“The Trust recognises external concerns over scale and growth of BBC online operations. Equally, it’s an immensely popular service with audiences and an important tool for the UK economy,” said Sir Michael Lyons, chairman of the Trust.

“We have no intention of diluting BBC commitment to universal access to free news online. But beyond that we want to question honestly what licence fee payers really expect to get from their licence fee and what they might be surprised to see the BBC doing in the online world.”

At the Society of Editors conference last week David Holdsworth, controller of English regions, discussed BBC Online plans to bring in RSS feeds from newspaper websites – just one example of how the corporation could be a better neighbour to local media, he said.

The Trust said Thompson’s review must take these kind of relationships into consideration and ask ‘how can the BBC work with the rest of the industry to ensure its investment creates the greatest possible value?’ This question has been a sticking point for many local media groups following the dispute over the corporation’s plans to increase its local video offering online, which were later rejected by the Trust.

Additionally, sharing or linking the BBC’s websites with other public or not-for-profit cultural and creative organisations, such as community radio services, should be looked at, the Trust recommended.

The first findings of the review will be published in early 2010 and opened to public consultation.

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BBC creates 12 new regional broadcast roles as part of new local news plans

October 20th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Jobs

The BBC is recruiting the first batch of regional journalists to improve its linear services to the UK’s regions, as part of proposals approved by the the BBC Trust in July.

The 12 new political reporter posts (as advertised on Media UK) will work across radio, TV and online for the BBC’s English regions.

“In this role, you’ll be translating complex material into reports which engage with our audiences. You’ll be working for both bulletins and programmes (e.g. Local Radio Breakfast and Drivetime shows) and providing material for regional TV news and weekly political programmes on BBC One. You’ll cover the next General Election campaign,” the job ad description explains.

Following the rejection of the BBC’s plans to increase local video output, the BBC Trust tasked the executive with producing proposals to enhance the BBC’s local TV and radio services.

The approved proposals included:

  • A fund for programming in the English regions
  • Improvements to local TV and radio news, including coverage of local government

“This is the first tranche of roles that we intend to create over the next few years focused on enhanced BBC coverage of local democracy on both local radio and regional television as part of improving local linear services to regions and communities,” a BBC spokeswoman told Journalism.co.uk.

“The overall package is part of a process of re-investment from our own efficiencies and we don’t expect there to be any net increase in jobs over the whole of the package which will roll out over the next 4/5 years.”

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BBC Trust launches ‘its largest’ TV service review – into BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Four

September 24th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting

The BBC Trust today launched ‘the largest and most significant service review’  of television that is has ever undertaken, and seeks views on BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Four. A 12 week public consultation is now underway.

“This forms part of the Trust’s regular series of reviews and will be the largest and most significant service review the Trust has undertaken. BBC One and BBC Two are the two most popular services that the BBC operates. It will be the first time that the Trust has looked at these services,” said Diane Coyle, BBC Trustee, who is leading the review.

The review will look at all content on the channels including news and nations and regions output, the Trust outlined. The BBC News Channel and BBC Parliament will be examined in the future.

The public can share their views at this link…

The BBC Trust was yesterday criticised by MPs’ in a select committe report, over the body’s handling of the corporation’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide.

Last week the culture minister, Ben Bradshaw, speaking at last week’s Royal Television Society conference in Cambridge, said there could be a case for a ’smaller licence fee’ and also suggested that the BBC Trust model is not ‘sustainable’.

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