'Slower progress' on BBC network news from Wales

BBC cameraman

The BBC has shown "slower progress" in the amount of stories from Wales featured on its network news programmes compared to those from the other UK nations, says BBC Wales' trustee.

Analysis by Cardiff University for the BBC Trust found the BBC had generally increased its coverage of the nations but Welsh stories lagged behind.

The BBC said editors from the nations regularly discussed stories together.

Elan Closs Stephens said the report was generally encouraging.

But she added: "There has been improvement but I'm not fully satisfied. It's a long journey and we're going in the right direction."

Cardiff University monitored output by the BBC over a four-week period in October and November 2015 and followed it up with a snapshot review over two weeks in early 2016.

The 2015 research found that coverage of Welsh stories on the BBC's UK-wide programmes had fallen compared to a similar study completed in 2009.

Only 1.4% of stories on network TV news bulletins were specifically about Wales, compared to 3.8% in 2009.

By contrast, Scotland accounted for 10.2% of stories in 2015 compared to 6.7% in 2009 while Northern Ireland stories were 5% of the TV output, compared to 3.7% in 2009.

The 2016 snapshot found 3.6% of TV news stories were about Wales, while 5.9% were about Scotland. Northern Ireland stories were 0.7% of the network TV news output during the two-week period.

When comparing all of the BBC's TV and radio output, as well as some commercial TV news, Cardiff University found that stories with specific relevance to Wales accounted for 1.9% of those covered.

The BBC said it had improved its labelling of stories that only applied to specific parts of the UK and pointed to improvements it had made to increase coverage of the devolved governments, including the introduction of a "nations news belt" on its TV news.

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Media captionElan Closs Stephens explained the difficulties facing the UK-wide news network

The study said the BBC communicated news about the four nations with "greater regularity and clarity" than other broadcasters and was "significantly more accurate" in communicating the geographical relevance of news items than competitors.

The BBC also said analysing its output during a set period did not take account of editorial judgements.

"Content analysis treats each minute of news the same regardless of meaning; it compares one period with another regardless of what is happening.

"The risk of this is news by tick box impartiality and we therefore welcome Cardiff's statement that 'quantitative analysis does not imply coverage should be driven by quotas or numbers of references,'" a spokesman said.

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