The BBC Trust has selected Stuart Prebble, former CEO of ITV, to lead an independent review looking at how the BBC achieves an appropriate breadth of voice in its reporting of news and current affairs.
The Trust has commissioned the review as a follow-up to a 2007 report by John Bridcut, From Seesaw to Wagon Wheel. It revealed that technological and social change had led to a spread of opinion which went beyond the traditional divide of left versus right, and it set out principles for the BBC to ensure it continued to achieve impartiality and provide the full breadth of views in its reporting.
The review of breadth of voice will look at implementation of the Bridcut recommendations, how the BBC’s understanding of breadth of voice has developed, and how the BBC specifically achieves breadth of voice in its reporting of a number of current issues.
Alison Hastings, Chair of the Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee, said:
“John Bridcut’s 2007 report set a new standard for achieving impartiality – likening it to a ‘wagon wheel’ of opinions rather than the traditional ‘see-saw’ of left versus right. Five years on, it’s the right time to check up on the BBC’s progress. Stuart Prebble’s distinguished career in broadcasting, both as a programme-maker and as a CEO, puts him in an ideal position to take an informed view on how the BBC has responded to Bridcut’s challenge.”
Stuart Prebble said:
“I am delighted to have been invited to lead this important study for the BBC. Having spent most of my career outside the BBC I look forward to bringing a fresh perspective to examine how well the commitment to breadth of voice - which is unique to the BBC - is being met.”
The review will commence and terms of reference published in the autumn. Conclusions will be published in summer 2013, along with supporting research and content analysis.
Notes to Editors
- This is the fifth impartiality review carried out by the Trust. Previous impartiality reviews have looked at the BBC’s coverage of business (published 2007); network news and current affairs coverage of the UK nations (2008); science (2011) and coverage of the events known as the ‘Arab Spring’ (2012).
- Stuart Prebble began his career as a BBC graduate journalist trainee and worked as an on- and off-screen journalist before moving to Granada, where he edited World in Action - for which he was nominated for a BAFTA - and later became Head of Factual Programming. He was appointed ITV’s first Controller of Factual Programming and went on to become Managing Director of Channels and New Media for Granada Media PLC, and CEO of ITV Digital. He was appointed CEO of ITV in 2001. He also co-founded independent production company Liberty Bell Productions and is now a Director of Storyvault Films.