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 agreed by the Trust for 2013/14 are as follows:
1. Services for local audiences
We want the quality and distinctiveness of services aimed specifically at audiences in Northern Ireland maintained, as Delivering Quality First efficiencies are increasingly felt.
We have welcomed progress in reporting public policy from the devolved nations on network news. We believe that there is scope to enrich news programmes and inform debate through further comparisons and context from different parts of the UK.
The Council wishes to see continued development in the local news agenda – and the resource allocation which supports this – to reflect areas of growing interest to audiences, from the environment and science to arts and culture. There is a particular need for investment in local news and current affairs online, especially at weekends.
We are also aware that, for some sections of the audience, trust in the BBC and its journalism has been seriously affected by the revelations about Jimmy Savile and issues with Newsnight. We want to see due scrutiny of, and investment in, journalism at UK and local levels to ensure that quality and standards are upheld.
3. Portrayal and Network Supply
We would like to see further progress in portraying a diverse and rapidly changing society in Northern Ireland to audiences across the UK. We also want to see more programmes made in Northern Ireland for UK audiences, including those which contribute to a broader representation of life here.
4. Access to BBC services
Audiences we spoke to are concerned about access to DAB digital radio. We have asked the Trust to ensure that the needs of audiences around the UK are fully taken into account in delivery of the universal access commitment for digital radio. We also want to see improved communications with audiences to explain how they can access the full range of BBC radio services, and make informed buying choices.
5. Local television programmes
We want to be assured that the audience needs currently met by BBC Two Northern Ireland programmes continue to be met in an HD environment.