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BBC News response to Governors' independent panel report on coverage of the European Union

Category: BBC; News

Date: 11.05.2005
Printable version

The Governors today published BBC News' response to Lord Wilson's independent panel report on the BBC's coverage of the European Union.


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.



Category: BBC; News

Date: 11.05.2005
Printable version


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