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BBC sets out plan to inform, educate and entertain during unprecedented times

Today the BBC is setting out how it will ensure it keeps the nation informed, educated, and entertained in unprecedented times.

BBC New Broadcasting House  Photograph: UK Free TV
BBC New Broadcasting House Photograph: UK Free TV
published on UK Free TV

Director-General Tony Hall says: "We all know these are challenging times for each and every one of us. As the national broadcaster, the BBC has a special role to play at this time of national need.

"We need to pull together to get through this. That’s why the BBC will be using all of its resources - channels, stations and output - to help keep the nation informed, educated and entertained. We are making a series of changes to our output to achieve that.

"We will continue to deliver all the essential news and information - with special programming and content.

"We also will do everything from using our airwaves for exercise classes for older people, religious services, recipes and advice on food for older people and low-income families, and should schools close, education programming for different age groups. We will also be launching a whole new iPlayer experience for children. And of course there will be entertainment - with the ambition of giving people some escapism and hopefully the odd smile.

"Clearly there will be disruption to our output along the way, but we will do our very best.

"It will take time to emerge from the challenges we all face, but the BBC will be there for the public all the way through this."

The BBC is announcing a wide-ranging package of measures today.

Our core role is to bring trusted news and information to audiences in the UK and around the world in a fast-moving situation, and counter confusion and misinformation.

In particular:

  • We will do everything we can to maintain Breakfast, the One, Six and Ten and ensure they continue to perform a vital role on BBC One
  • We will broadcast a weekly prime-time Coronavirus special on Wednesdays on BBC One, and move Question Time to 8pm on Thursdays, with call-in audiences and remote guests.
  • We will record a daily edition of the Coronavirus podcast, and film it where possible for News channel use in the UK and abroad.
  • We will bring listeners the most up-to-date information on Coronavirus through 5 Live. 5 Live will be answering listeners’ questions with regular phone-ins.
  • We will focus local radio breakfast and mid-morning output on news, open phone lines and expert advice for local communities between 6am and midday.
  • Under the umbrella Make A Difference, every local radio station will join up with local volunteer groups to help co-ordinate support for the elderly, housebound or at risk, making sure people know what help is available in their area.
  • We will keep Newsround bulletins on air throughout the day on CBBC.
  • We will delay the planned closure of the Red Button text news and information service.

We will help people in the UK deal with the impact of the crisis on their own lives, by providing advice, education and support.

Initiatives include:

  • Using The One Show as a consumer programme show for all aspects of the crisis. This will include health and well-being advice, keeping fit and healthy eating tips, as well as links to other BBC output that can help and support.
  • In BBC One daytime, Health Check UK Live will directly address the concerns of viewers who are in isolation, offering tips on how to keep healthy and happy at home.
  • Making BBC Homepage the BBC’s bulletin board supplying clear information - the answers to all the key questions, with public information, health advice and recipes.
  • Launching a virtual church service on Sunday mornings across local radio in England, led initially by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
  • Subject to outside broadcast capacity and our partners, we will aim to broadcast a weekly Sunday morning church service on BBC One, and explore how to support other religions and denominations, including in the run-up to Ramadan.
  • We will work with partners to get older age group exercise routines and other fitness programming into people's homes on TV or radio.
  • We will retarget the BBC Food website around collections of recipes and advice on what can be made with essentials, especially for older people, and for low-income families.

In the event that schools are shut down, and subject to further work and discussions with the Department for Education, devolved administrations and schools, we are exploring:

  1. A daily educational programme for different key stages or year groups - with a complementary self-learning programme for students to follow, broadcast on BBC Red Button and made available on demand on BBC iPlayer.
  2. Expanding BBC Bitesize content, with our social media running daily troubleshooting Q&As focusing on a different subject each day.
  3. Increasing our educational programming on BBC iPlayer, bringing together the best from BBC Bitesize, BBC Teach and the wider BBC portfolio where educationally appropriate.
  4. Creating two new daily educational podcasts for BBC Sounds, one for primary and one for secondary.
  5. BBC Four and BBC Red Button devoting a block of programming each weekday evening to show programmes that support the GCSE and A Level curriculum. In Scotland, the Scotland channel will support the Scottish NQs and Highers in daytime.

We will keep people entertained, providing laughter, escapism, companionship, shared experiences and a sense of connection to the outside world.

Initiatives include the following:

  • We will bring back many favourite shows, allowing people of all ages to escape into some top-quality entertainment both on our channels and on BBC iPlayer. New boxsets going up shortly include Spooks, The Missing, Waking The Dead, French And Saunders, Wallander and The Honourable Woman, as well as more from BBC Three.
  • We will be launching an exciting new iPlayer experience for children, offering a wide range of entertaining and educational series. It will be easy to use and easy for them to find what’s relevant to them.
  • Radio 1, Radio 2 and Radio 4 will provide the information, explanation and escape that millions rely on. On Radio 4, we will dig into our rich archive of drama with such well-loved titles as The Complete Smiley, all of the novels by the Bronte Sisters, film noir classics by Raymond Chandler, and reassuring favourites as Rumpole and Wodehouse. We will be sharing popular podcast dramas with a wider radio audience for the first time by broadcasting the award-winning Forest 404 and The Whisperer In Darkness. We will also hope to provide some joy and laughter by running classic editions of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue and Just A Minute.
  • We will do the same in BBC Sounds, looking at bringing back classic sport, comedy and drama, as well as exploring using the BBC’s programme index to allow audiences to search thousands of online archive radio programmes.
  • We will aim to create live fund-raising events, to raise money for coronavirus good causes.
  • At a time when British culture is having to close its doors, the BBC, through iPlayer and Sounds, can give British culture an audience that can’t be there in person. We propose to run an essential arts and culture service - Culture in Quarantine - that will keep the Arts alive in people’s homes, focused most intensely across Radio 3, Radio 4, BBC Two, BBC Four, Sounds, iPlayer and our digital platforms, working closely with organisations like Arts Council England and other national funding and producing bodies. This will include guides to shuttered exhibitions, performances from world-class musicians and comedy clubs, new plays created especially for broadcast featuring exceptional talent, poetry and book readings.

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Thursday, 19 March 2020
John Hughes

11:23 AM

Yes this is all very good but a slap in the face to the most vulnerable in our society who are now receiving notices informing that they will have to start paying the TV licence again from June.
Yes there is an exception for those who claim certain state benefits, but as usual in similar cases, many for various reasons fail to claim them.
During this exceptional time a caring government would reverse the refusal to compensate the BBC for the loss of revenue and ensure no-one would have to decide either to keep warm or loose a vital well-being stimulant during this period of self isolation.

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John Hughes's 28 posts GB flag
Denis Campbell

11:36 AM

It might help if they acted like journalists and question government actions, instead of following blindly what officials say.... such as "we need 60% of the population to catch the virus" in respect to Herd Immunity.

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Denis Campbell's 24 posts GB flag

11:42 AM

John Hughes: The changes to TV Licences have already been pushed back to 1st August. Anyone who currently receives a free TV Licence doesn't need to take any action until then (it could be pushed back further depending on how the situation develops).

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StevensOnln1's 3,569 posts GB flag
Friday, 20 March 2020
John Hughes

12:58 PM

Well StevensOnln1
The letter dated March 2020 from Alison Roberts, Customer Service Director, TV Licensing that was handed to me by a tearful 91 year old, who we do shopping for. Stated in the first paragraph:
As you may know, free TV Licences funded by the Government for all over 75s will come to an end on 31st May 2020.'
As there is nothing stated about any delay kindly let me know StevensOnln1 if you know of the whereabouts for any official information stating differently so I may put this frail elderly persons mind a rest.

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John Hughes's 28 posts GB flag

2:23 PM

John Hughes: That letter would have been printed before the delay was announced on Monday. See this BBC News article at the link below.

Coronavirus: BBC delays over-75 TV licence fee changes - BBC News

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StevensOnln1's 3,569 posts GB flag
John Hughes

5:22 PM

Excellent news thank you very much for forwarding

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John Hughes's 28 posts GB flag
Sunday, 22 March 2020
Steve P

1:00 AM

The sheer length and spread of that letter makes me realise how much the BBC needs pruning. If not coppiceing or pollarding.

What on earth is "Five live"?

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Steve P's 1,173 posts US flag

2:37 AM

Steve P:

It's a radio station broadcasting on 693kHz and 909kHz MW/AM (main transmitters) or 990kHz in West Wales from Cardigan Bay. It's also on DAB, as is a 5Live Sports Extra for extended additional Sports coverage.

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Chris.SE's 3,939 posts GB flag
Wednesday, 25 March 2020
11:37 AM

Pity they have only just remembered that their charter role has always been
to Inform Educate and Entertain. If their news coverage had been more curious,
more thorough, more critical and willing to call out the bull, we might be more
informed and not be in the position we are now.

They lost their editorial rudder in the time of Cameron and Osborne. It would be
interesting to see real figures for their audience decline in programs like
R4 Today, News at Six, News at Ten, Newnight, Question Time, Politics Dead
(or what ever the mid-day politics program is now called), Marr, This Week etc.
Not viewing news often means we are on another channel and we stay on it.

Why not transfer BBC local radio and TV News in to new regional organisations
(possibly combining with the, in some areas morbidly lacklustre, "Local TV"
on Freeview Channel 7 - usually rebroadcasting a CBS channel - local!) - and let
the rest go or shrink down to Attenborough Documentaries & Eastenders (if they must)?

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David's 1 post GB flag
Tuesday, 31 March 2020
mike byford
8:42 PM

I love the BBc and watch nothing else but the odd channel 4 especially their news!

However until you cast off your tory bosses and overlords then you can get stuffed when claiming to report news , politics or current affairs. Most of the educated of Britain see through the tory plan to remove the bbc and make small sections of it pay per view . Until the tory imposed board of governors and political and news editors get removed I will believe NOTHING the BBC says! I will continue to pay my license as I love the drama and nature programs .. but stuff Question time and all of the biased tory news!

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mike byford's 2 posts GB flag
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