Each year the four Audience Councils, for Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales, advise the Trust on priority issues for audiences around the UK. The priorities common to the four nations and agreed by the Trust for 2012/13 are as follows:
1. Maintaining a focus on Quality Journalism
All four Audience Councils welcome the Trust’s commitment to high quality journalism, one of the BBC’s five editorial priorities.
The Councils are aware that audiences appreciate the improvements that have been made by BBC News to label more accurately the relevance of stories to the constituent nations of the UK. However, the Councils also believe there is still room for more comparative stories highlighting different approaches to public policy across the UK.
The Councils ask the Trust to ensure that news coverage continues to meet the changing needs of audiences in the nations and English regions.
2. Continuing to focus on serving all audiences
The Councils place a particular priority on ensuring that the BBC is able to serve all licence fee payers with programmes and services relevant to them. They have reminded that Trust that, even in difficult financial times, the BBC should aim to ensure that the needs of diverse audiences can still be met, and quality maintained.
3. Accessing the BBC’s services in the nations
The Councils are concerned about the future of nations-specific programming on BBC Two HD, given the Executive’s proposal that HD versions of BBC Two would not be provided with nations variants. There are also concerns about the availability of English regions variants on BBC One HD.
The Councils stress the importance of making existing services – such as nations’ and regions’ radio services - available to all licence fee payers.
4. Portrayal of diverse communities across the United Kingdom
The Councils welcome the proposal that a higher proportion of material originated in the nations should be broadcast to audiences throughout the UK. They consider that this could contribute significantly to better reflecting the UK, it nations, regions and communities.
The Councils seek assurance that this development will not dilute the distinctiveness and cultural specificity of content for the nations and regions.