The Governors today published BBC News' response to
Lord Wilson's independent panel report on the BBC's coverage of the
BBC Director of News, Helen Boaden, said: "We are fully
committed to providing in-depth, fair and impartial coverage of Europe
and the EU, and to engaging our audiences on this highly complex subject.
"This commitment has already been reflected across
much of our output. Lord Wilson's report contains constructive suggestions
which we will build into our overall strategy."
BBC News management's response accepts many of the suggested
actions from the report and, in other cases, puts forward alternative
suggestions for strengthening coverage overall.
The response says that the independent panel's report
has "contributed significantly to our thinking about how to improve
BBC News' coverage of the European Union."
The response pledges greater sophistication in the coverage,
to move more coverage of the debate beyond the 'Westminster prism',
and to improve training for staff.
It also pledges greater focus on, and understanding
of, the institutions as well as issues within the EU - and to broaden
the range of opinions involved in debate.
Some key actions put forward in BBC News' response include
the recruitment of a new Europe Editor to focus on the politics, policy
and economics of Europe and the EU, and an additional Europe Institutions
Reporter to report for radio, television and online on the EU decision-making
processes in Brussels and Strasbourg.
The BBC's network of bureaux in Europe will continue
to illustrate a broad range of issues and opinions from across EU member
states, and to report on events in those countries.
BBC News will continue to develop its EU editorial planning
system to ensure coordination across all BBC News output, and will strengthen
the current monitoring system to give more information about the balance
within the coverage, the range of interviewees used and complaints received.
This will be assessed quarterly at the News Editorial Board.
Plans are also underway to strengthen training for staff,
including an interactive online course on the EU; field work in Brussels
and Strasbourg for output editors; open seminars with external speakers
across the spectrum of views in the run up to a British Referendum;
and ongoing training on major complex editorial issues by the BBC's
College of Journalism.
The response also points to an audit, already underway,
of Europe and EU contacts; close liaison with the BBC's Nations and
Regions to ensure a full range of voices of politicians and non-politicians;
and the piloting of a new system to measure the audience impact of the
BBC's journalism in terms of promoting informed citizenship, including
the public's understanding of EU-related issues.
The response recognises the need for a range of voices
to give full expression to the nuances of the European debate, and reinforces
the need to continue to challenge and question the views of interviewees.
The response challenges the report's suggestion that
the BBC should cede editorial control on the selection of contributors
to campaign groups with an interest in Europe, stating that "We believe
it must always be the case that the BBC has the right to choose who
appears in its programmes".
The response considers the report's suggestion of moving
management of EU coverage from World Newsgathering to Home Newsgathering,
but concludes that such a move would not sit easily with concerns that
the EU is viewed through a domestic or Westminster prism.
The new London-based EU planning system will address
the issues highlighted in the report.