The Trust makes decisions about the BBC that affect audiences and other stakeholders, including the wider communications industry. It is important, therefore, that we know what they think so we can take this into consideration – and then communicate with them about these decisions. This year the key areas we sought input into were our service reviews, and the BBC's proposed future strategy.
To understand audiences' and professional stakeholders' views, we carry out a programme of consultations, research and engagement and take advice from our Audience Councils in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In the past 12 months the Trust has undertaken eight public consultations as part of our programme of service reviews, strategic reviews and changes to policy guidelines. We also publicly consulted on the Executive's proposals to implement the BBC's new strategy, in response to the 2010 funding settlement – as we promised we would. We received over 30,000 responses from the public to our consultations this year, alongside many responses from organisations (including industry bodies, charities, interest groups and others).
This year, we promoted the consultations on the BBC's airwaves strongly than ever before. We ran campaigns across the television channels and radio stations, both nationally and locally, and on BBC Online. The public consultation on the strategy was publicised on all the BBC television networks, the majority of the radio networks and on bbc.co.uk. The television campaign alone is estimated to have been seen by 24.2 million adults (42% of the UK population). Our consultation on the BBC Asian Network allowed for people to respond in Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Punjabi and Gujarati.
The responses we received helped to shape our findings and recommendations. In particular, the strong response we had to the proposals for BBC Local Radio was instrumental in our decision to require the Executive to scale back the proposed changes.
To ensure that we represent and reflect the views of all audiences, not just those who take part in consultations, we commission research amongst a wider range of licence fee payers. This includes nationally representative surveys to enable us to understand the strength of views across the UK and to appreciate any differences between diverse groups of people. It also includes bespoke research – both quantitative and qualitative.
This year we again tracked perceptions of the BBC's delivery of its public purposes through a survey of over 2,000 adults. For our service reviews, we commission a mix of quantitative and qualitative research to understand the views of audiences of those services. This year we commissioned research among audiences of BBC Local Radio, BBC Radio 5 Live and the BBC News and BBC Parliament channels to supplement the findings from our public consultations on these services.
For our review of the BBC Asian Network we carried out qualitative and quantitative research using a specialist agency with niche audiences from a range of ethnic backgrounds, focusing on the UK's main South Asian population groups (British Indian, British Pakistani and British Bangladeshi). Qualitative research was also an important part of our impartiality review of the BBC's coverage of the events known as the 'Arab Spring'.
We continue to engage industry and other stakeholders to ensure we understand the interests of the wider media industry and the potential impact of our decisions. As part of the deliberations around implementing the BBC's strategy, we held a series of roundtables with a wide range of stakeholders from across the UK, exploring particular aspects of the proposals from the impact on production in the devolved nations to that of local journalism in England.
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