The Spending Review: Making It Clear

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Next week and running through with a second push in early October, the BBC will broadcast a season of programming and content across its TV, radio and online journalism output examining the impending cuts to public sector spending. This is set in the context that the Government will be making its major announcement on the Spending Review on October 20th. During the recent General Election campaign one of our main jobs at the BBC was to act as a trusted guide explaining an often very complex set of issues. The focus for all our editorial content around the Election was "Making it Clear". This was not just a title - it was a mission statement for the BBC's election campaign coverage. So, too, will it now be for our coverage in the run up to the Spending Review announcement.

During critical times such as now, for the United Kingdom, the BBC has an important role to play to clarify the issues for our audiences - to help them make sense of different ideas and points of view. The Spending Review is one of those times and our aim is to provide insightful, objective programmes and expert analysis to help people understand the context and the potential options. We'll look at where and at what level the cuts may be made and why they are happening now, ask what the key issues are, how the Government is dealing with them and what the implications of the cuts could be.

At the heart of next week's programming are twelve major regional television debates across the English regions being broadcast on BBC One on Thursday 9th September at 10.35 pm. The audience will include politicians, public sector workers, business leaders and members of the public. This is a good example of the unique ability of the BBC's regional and local services to connect with their audiences and engage them in a subject that is likely to have a direct effect on their lives. The debates will examine the potential impact of the spending review in their regions, exploring the decisions that local councils will be faced with and how those decisions might impact on jobs, services and local businesses. They will use as a starting point the results of a study commissioned by the BBC's English regions which brings together, for the first time, a range of different factors that determine how vulnerable a particular area is to economic impacts such as public sector cuts. The debates will be followed up on BBC Local Radio the following morning.

As well as the regional debates and survey next week, there will also be widespread coverage across the BBC's main network news programmes for the whole UK including a special focus through the forthcoming party conference season. Nick Robinson will be travelling around the country to find out what are the key issues on people's minds about the Spending Review. Newsnight will be offering its own special reportage and debate and in the following week the Today programme looks at the Spending Review issues through the lens of two constituencies in Sheffield.

Launching on Saturday we have a special website featuring the latest news on the Spending Review, Q&A's from our key correspondents and lots more rich content and analysis to sit alongside our radio and TV programmes. Click on www.bbc.co.uk/spendingreview. Moving into early October there will further debates broadcast in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and our specialist correspondents will look at the issues sector by sector. On the day that the Government announces full details of the cuts on October 20th Andrew Neil will present a programme dedicated to the Spending Review and there will be extended reports and analysis in our main news programmes.

This kind of comprehensive programming, providing real public service is what the BBC is here to do and we will continue to follow the story throughout the autumn. We hope it will help our audiences understand the full context of the Spending Review and what it may mean for them.

Mark Byford is Deputy Director General and Head of BBC Journalism

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  • Comment number 22. Posted by Andrew Hunter

    on 21 Oct 2010 21:30

    International development budget up by £11.6bn, to meet the UN aid commitment. Yet this money could been used back home to stop reduces of services here. We have sent money overseas for internatioanl development for years with out any return on it. we even seen it be blow up in wars other troubles around the world. This budget should be lower and rised.





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  • Comment number 21. Posted by wishiwasandrewmarr

    on 7 Oct 2010 23:18

    Please discuss the possibility of reducing the deficit by cutting tax reliefs: we could reduce the deficit by more than £10bn with relatively small cuts in high paid baby boomers massive non-state pensions. The Government gives away over £150bn each year in tax reliefs - many of them not even listed in its statistics. Yet the BBC NEVER QUESTIONS the possibility of cutting the deficit by cutting these reliefs!

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  • Comment number 20. Posted by RICHARD CARTRIDGE PETITION

    on 10 Sept 2010 10:09

    This comment was removed because it broke the house rules. Explain

  • Comment number 19. Posted by jen

    on 9 Sept 2010 17:39

    Hi

    I'll keep this as short as possible.
    Residents of Carter Lane West, South Normanton, Alfreton Derbyshire put in for compensation claims for disruption during the upgrade of the junction 28 island, noise as they worked through the night with big spot lights, dust and traffic disruption.
    Some went with Carricks of Cardiff and were paid £2000 in early 2009. Some 2 miles away were paid £500. Our claim with local firm Morgan & Co, Belper, Derbys
    went through and we were offered £2000 which we signed to accept. This week the Highways Agency have written to us to say we are not entitled to anything. Yet the neighbours were!
    We can appeal at our cost.
    Is this the governments spending review, treating people unfairly and with discrimination?

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  • Comment number 18. Posted by Dave Madden

    on 7 Sept 2010 17:22

    This comment was removed because it broke the house rules. Explain

  • Comment number 17. Posted by I like a good hard fact

    on 6 Sept 2010 08:50

    I for one welcome this move. The Government is in and the cuts are coming, and many aspects of the cuts will affect us all. Unless the coalition disintegrates the agenda is not WHETHER to cut spending, it is HOW to cut spending. Regardless of party/ideology politics, surely this is a debate worth having.

    I am looking forward to the BBC Midlands Today piece and I hope it moves the issue forward.

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  • Comment number 16. Posted by somewhereinbristol

    on 4 Sept 2010 08:02

    Thanks to Laura the Editor for clarifying the coverage of the Coulson story. The point I made was that the BBC covered it when it became impossible to ignore. The New York Times story was posted on Wednesday. The Guardian covered it on its front page on Thursday. The BBC managed, by Friday, to get it including a good interview on PM ... which was being explained away on the News at Ten as being party political. Still, at least by Any Questions on Friday evening we had one Labour MP, one Conservative MP and columnists from papers as diverse as the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph.

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  • Comment number 15. Posted by york1900

    on 4 Sept 2010 04:02

    The BBC should not at any price get in to bed with the Government to try to protect it licence fee as the day that happens The BBC sell us all down the river

    The licence fee is good value for money over a year when you compare it against SKY and Virgin

    The fact that the price that major events and acts are asking is more and more for the rights to cover these events and The BBC do use more UK made programs for all tastes

    It is Sky and Virgin that have helped push up the cost of the licence fee with must have at any price so the BBC as to have the money to try and get some of these events and acts

    The BBC do's some times pay over the odds for some of them but that is life



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  • Comment number 14. Posted by de rigueur

    on 3 Sept 2010 17:22

    Andy Parsnip wrote: If the BBC wasted hundreds of thousands of licence fee payer pounds on defending the integrity of a middle-class motoring programme...

    Um, I'm sorry but are you honestly referring to 'Top Gear'? I quite agree that defending what little honour that prog has was a total waste of taxpayers money...but 'middle class'? As far as I'm concerned it's a fantasy fling for chav petrolheads with little sense and even less car insurance!

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  • Comment number 13. Posted by ChrisB

    on 3 Sept 2010 17:03

    Now that the cat's out of the bag re Mr Thompson rushing to Downing Street to get his panegyrics on government cuts approved, can we have no more re his 'impartiality'? Mark Thompson is now an embarrassment as head of the BBC. He has serially debased the status and respect of the BBC over his Gaza DEC ban, and his invite to Nick Griffen. Now this latest bit of 'partial treatment'!

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