About the BBC

Statements of Programme Policy

BBC News Channel Policy 2008/2009

BBC News

Service remit

The BBC News Channel should deliver up-to-the-minute, accurate, impartial and independent news, analysis and insight. It should provide fast and comprehensive coverage of local, UK and international events as they unfold and specialist analysis to put the news in context.

Delivering the BBC's purposes in 2008/2009

The BBC News Channel will continue to contribute towards the delivery of the BBC's public purposes in the range of ways set out in its service licence. Key developments in the way in which the service will contribute to each purpose are outlined below. These are designed to address the priorities identified by the BBC Trust, future-proof the delivery of the purposes, and address perceived gaps in delivery in line with strategies in the BBC's purpose plans.

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Key developments

1 Sustaining citizenship and civil society

  • Priority: Parliamentary reporting will continue to cover significant debates and parliamentary occasions from Westminster and the devolved parliament and assemblies, which is particularly significant for audiences in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and we will continue to explain European institutions and their work.
  • The BBC News Channel will offer explanation, analysis and the opportunity for debate, as the leaders of three of the main political parties establish their positions in the local and mayoral elections in the spring, the new Scottish First Minister seeks to implement his programme, and Northern Ireland moves forward under a new First Minister.
  • To promote national debate, we will encourage viewers to interact with the channel and the BBC News website, to comment on issues and to put their questions to experts and those in authority. Specifically we will:
    – Broadcast a comprehensive news service each hour, including sport and weather updates; a news summary on the half-hour; and an hourly business news from 09.00 to 19.00 on weekdays (subject to major breaking news).
    – Broadcast weekly the in-depth political interview programme Straight Talk with Andrew Neil.

2 Bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK

  • Priority: The BBC News Channel aims to offer a more international news agenda than the other main continuous news channels based in the UK and so features major international stories, including comprehensive coverage of the 2008 US presidential elections and events surrounding the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. This will draw upon the expertise of BBC correspondents based in newsgathering bureaux across the world to provide insight and analysis. Rolling news will be regularly co-presented from the scenes of major breaking stories from around the world.
  • Where appropriate, the BBC News Channel will include a range of international voices across the output, including in-depth interviews with international politicians and significant public figures.

3 Representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities

  • The BBC News Channel offers strong regional coverage, calling on a network of correspondents across the UK and trying to feature a regional perspective from beyond London in all relevant major stories in order to highlight different impacts in different parts of the country. We seek opinion and comment from a range of sources throughout the UK – business people, academics and pressure groups as well as the public – and give opportunities to viewers to pose their questions to the channel's guests.
  • Local, regional and national politics feature across the schedule, including the key proceedings of the Scottish Parliament and the devolved assemblies, and this year will include comprehensive coverage of the local elections. This year we will:
    – Feature more local and regional news coverage than the other main continuous news channel(s) in the UK, in part through giving regional perspectives to national stories.
    – Cover the key debates and votes in the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies.

4 Promoting education and learning

  • The BBC News Channel delivers informal learning to viewers via the provision of trusted news and information on a range of subjects, such as business and economics, science and technology, arts and culture. This year we will build the Entertainment 24 brand (E24) to provide improved entertainment and arts news coverage. This is likely to appeal to younger viewers, helping to address the under-served audience purpose gap.

5 Delivering the benefit of emerging communications technologies

  • We will augment our news coverage with video, still images and messages submitted by viewers, where appropriate, in order to offer first-hand accounts and a wide range of views. We aim to make it as simple as possible for audiences to make these contributions and create one seamless BBC News proposition across all platforms.

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Conditions: BBC purposes and BBC News Channel commitments

Unless otherwise stated, all commitments are minimum hours or percentages and include originations, repeats and acquisitions.
All conditions are annual unless otherwise stated.

Bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK

  • Provide more international news than other main continuous news channel(s) in the UK

Representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities

  • Provide more local/regional news than other main continuous news channel(s) in the UK, in part by giving regional perspectives to national stories
  • Report sports news throughout the day, rounding up the day's main sports stories every evening
  • 100 hours of sports news

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Statutory commitments

The following targets are agreed with Ofcom each calendar year (and results are published in the BBC Annual Report and Accounts):

  • 90% of hours to be originations (original productions include all BBC-commissioned programming, including originations and all repeats of programming first shown on any BBC public service channel).
  • In conjunction with other BBC network television services, to spend at least 30% of relevant programme production budgets, representing 25% hours of productions by volume, outside the M25.
  • A minimum percentage of 90% of qualifying hours to have subtitling and 5% to have signing. (BBC News Channel is exempt from audio description commitments.)

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