News to come under BBC Trust scrutiny

Richard Ayre Former BBC News man Richard Ayre to lead review

BBC News is to come under scrutiny again, this time by the BBC Trust.

The division will be the subject of a service review, beginning in the summer and led by trustee Richard Ayre.

The News Channel, BBC Parliament, the main tv and radio bulletins as well as programmes like Today and Newsnight will be assessed as part of the review. Occasional or weekly current affairs programmes, such as Panorama, will not be included.

Ayre, who started a 30 year career as a BBC News trainee and went on to be a BBC reporter, editor, controller of editorial policy and deputy chief executive of News, said that the trust considered News as 'so central' to the BBC's purposes.

Start Quote

We wanted to ensure that it can deliver on its aspiration to provide the best journalism in the world, right across its networks and services”

End Quote Richard Ayre BBC Trustee

'We wanted to ensure that it can deliver on its aspiration to provide the best journalism in the world, right across its networks and services.'


The announcement follows a difficult few months for the news division which faced criticism of its management culture in December's Pollard Review which followed the 'seriously flawed' decision by Newsnight to drop an investigation into claims of abuse by Jimmy Savile.

Pollard triggered the resignation of the long-serving deputy director of News Stephen Mitchell and the move of Newsnight's editor and deputy editor into new roles.

Helen Boaden, the News director, is now back in charge having 'stepped aside' while the review took place.

Newsnight also came under fire for wrongly implicating Lord McAlpine as a paedophile, which led to the BBC paying £185,000 plus costs in libel damages.

Television channels

The BBC Trust will also be reviewing BBC One, Two, Three and Four in 2013, starting in the spring.

'We'll be looking for evidence of progress since the last time we reviewed each channel,' explained trustee David Liddiment who is leading the tv services review, 'particularly on the distinctiveness of their schedules, and whether they're continuing to deliver the high standards that audiences rightly expect.'

The major reviews - part of a rolling programme that requires the trust to review each BBC service at least once every five years - will complete in spring and summer 2014.


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