Date: 12.09.2012 Last updated: 06.10.2014 at 12.29
This ACW audience outreach event was attended by about 18 members of the BBC’s audiences who work for the Open University in Wales. With the BBC Trust’s Service Review of bbc.co.uk to be launched shortly, the discussions began with that BBC service. However, as for all ACW outreach events, the members of the audience set the agenda and so other areas of the BBC’s output were also discussed.
On-line and on-demand services
The experience of the audience members of bbc.co.uk was generally very positive with the News section being praised in particular. It was felt to be an authoritative source of information and news and a trusted area on the world-wide-web for parents to allow their children to play games and to use the extensive learning resources available there. One participant said that she also used the site as part of her process of learning Welsh and considered it valuable in that regard.
Some felt that the recent changes to the site had led to it being ‘clunky’ but this was not considered a huge problem for users.
Many of those present had the BBC as their personal computers’ home page and said that they used the site, both for discovering and using teaching and learning resources, but also as a means of keeping up with political discussions through the Democracy Live site. It was suggested by one participant that it would be helpful if it were to be extended to include Local Authorities – not least since it might improve the quality of the debate at full Council meetings!
The iPlayer was also praised as a very valuable work and leisure resource and widely used by the participants, though one criticism of it was that it was sometimes difficult to find Wales originated content on it.
There was praise by many participants of the provision of BBC online apps and services accessible using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers with one describing the provision as ‘invaluable’. The only criticism was that at present there “seem to be too many BBC on-line apps – it would be good if they could be combined into one”.
News and current affairs
members of the group said they preferred the BBC’s News service above any
others, and would always double check stories on the BBC for facts.
was a feeling that a lot of the BBC’s news output, particularly Breakfast, was
London and south east centric. The same
feeling was felt with Welsh content and that Welsh news concentrated more on
south east Wales than anywhere else.
and Current Affairs content was praised for being informative and vital for
keeping up to date with developments. Another participant felt however that that
the news in general was too reminiscent “of a Metro newspaper and I’ve given up
on BBC One was criticised for being too much like a magazine programme and that
there needed to me some demarcation between the serious issues and the magazine
elements of the programme.
was criticism of the speed with which breaking stories were broadcast by the
BBC, with some participants observing that Sky were usually a few minutes faster. It was felt that the BBC could always be trusted
for accuracy however, and some of those present followed BBC journalists on
Twitter as a way of getting breaking news stories quicker.
participants believed that news coverage on BBC Wales needed to be more
confident in covering issues, and move away from the “more parochial aspects”. It was felt by some that programmes such as Week
In, Week Out needed to expand beyond focusing on Wales. Examples given included the Royal Welsh Agricultural
Show which was covered during news bulletins when it was felt by some that those
bulletins should have been focussed on hard news. They felt that the look and feel of the Wales
news coverage needed to be changed and “be bolder, more diverse and more
participants made the case for a Newsnight type programme for Wales,
featuring a range of opinion formers as well as politicians. They believed the key to getting people more
engaged with political content was to use more sources rather than just politicians.
group had strong feelings about the BBC’s Drama output, especially the original
dramas shown on BBC Four which were seen as being high quality and like nothing
else on television.
like Horizon and documentaries were praised for being original and well made
and the introduction of European dramas in their original format to the BBC was
welcomed as they may not have been able to access them anywhere else. Comedy was also praised for being original
and clever without being silly, with Mock the Week mentioned as an example of
good comedy. There was some criticism by some participants of the portrayal of
Welsh families in comedies like Gavin and Stacey which were described as “cringe-worthy”.
was a feeling that at times, BBC One was becoming too much like commercial
channels, featuring too much light entertainment that lacked quality and
originality. Whilst BBC Three didn’t appeal to some as a channel, they accepted
that it was popular with teenagers and that older teenagers also appreciated
lack of adverts on the BBC was positively referred to, especially for
children. They said it was great to know
that they can sit their children down in front of the TV and not have to worry
about them being exposed to adverts (particularly for products marketed at
was praised by many members of the group for the range and quality of
programmes as well as for using disabled presenters which was seen as a great
example compared to other parts of the BBC which were lacking. Others praised
CBBC for slightly older children and admitted to enjoying watching programmes
all members of the group watched BBC television, with one explaining that they
preferred to watch American imports on Sky.
participants commented that it was great that BBC Wales put out so much content
and that it was hugely beneficial to the nation, although they felt that the
north was sometimes given inadequate coverage.
There was criticism for the scheduling of some BBC Wales programmes,
particularly dramas like Baker Boys which were shown at awkward times and days.
The Story of Wales was mentioned as a great programme although it could
have been on earlier for children who had to watch it at a different time on
iPlayer, although they enjoyed it nonetheless. Other participants also singled
out The Story of Wales as a high quality BBC Wales programme that was
well made and marketed well to ensure that it reached a range of viewers,
especially those who may not have had an interest in the type of programme
participants enjoyed watching Pobol y Cwm as it helped them “keep up their
Welsh”. Another popular S4C programme which was named specifically was Gwaith
felt that drama produced by BBC Wales was successfully ‘bringing Wales to the
world’ through programmes like Doctor Who, Torchwood, and so on
which gave a good, modern portrayal of the country - in a subtle way. Seeing the BBC Wales logo at the end of these
programmes gave viewers a lift.
members of the group were big fans of the BBC’s radio services. Radio 1 and Radio 4 were popular and Radio 1
was also praised for having a good website, which showed the playlists of songs
which appeared on programmes and links to find out more about artists and so on
which was important. Radio 4 programmes specifically mentioned included Just
a Minute, the Afternoon Play, The Archers, Today and Moneybox. Some
participants considered that the arts output broadcast by the BBC on the radio
was worth the licence fee on its own. Particpants
also enjoyed listening to the World Service and 6 Music.
was criticism that the strength of signal for Radio Wales wasn’t consistent
across the whole of Wales and that it is particularly noticeable on the drive
from south Wales to north Wales where it cuts out for most of the journey.
explained that they rarely listened to Radio Wales due to the fact that the
distinction between news and magazine content was blurred and was felt to be a
bit parochial. They explained the mix of
serious comment with lighter elements was irritating although realised it could
be due to being aimed at a different audience.
quality and offering of BBC Sport, with the London 2012 Olympics being an
exception, was felt to have deteriorated in recent years with Sky now doing a
much better job of covering sport and providing a range of sport. They acknowledged that budget constraints had
an effect on purchasing rights to broadcasting different sports and so on.
However, even existing coverage and commentary was deemed poor, particularly
Match of the Day. More in depth analysis
would be welcomed.
was disappointment that Formula 1 car racing coverage was now being shared with
Sky. It was also felt that more should
be done to capitalise on the fact that Swansea City is in the Premier League with one participant
suggesting that people in Denmark were more familiar with the Welsh team than
those at home because the manager was Danish.
Olympics were seen as a triumph for the BBC – particularly the online coverage
as there was so much choice with great live commentary. Participants felt it encouraged them to watch
different sports and it was great to have the rules explained to them. When asked if they would watch minority
sports in the future, some said they would try to see if they enjoyed it. One of the group mentioned that the BBC used
to air a programme about the Cardiff Devils ice hockey team but that there was
nothing about them now despite the fact that they are one of the biggest teams
in the country. Women’s sports were also laregly ignored at present.
was felt that Network rugby commentary was poor and didn’t come close to that
of the great Bill McClaren! The quality of the visuals in the BBC’s rugby
coverage was considered to be great however.
participants felt there “wasn’t enough ‘Welshness’ on Network programmes” and
this also applied to other nations, citing references to tennis player Andy
Murray as ‘British’ when he wins and ‘Scottish’ when he loses! They felt there was
a lack of consistency with these references.
of the group welcomed the release of the back catalogue of Desert Island
Discs as Podcasts and hoped that more of these would be available in the
asked what they would like to see from the BBC in five years’ time, participants
said that they hoped the broadcaster would not go down the commercial route and
lose its integrity and that they would keep the creativity going. They accepted that in light of budget cuts
that the BBC must realise it can’t be ‘everything for everyone’ and shouldn’t
try to please everyone.