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Read this: Another Warning for the BBC

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Another Warning for the BBC…

BBC sounds music Radio podcasts hello, this is the media show from BBC Radio 4 the media regulator Ofcom released a review of how the BBC operates there's an awful lot in it and I've gone focused on three areas how the BBC deals with complaints Howard approaches impartiality who decides which services to provide and across all three of them wants an improvement in how the BBC explains to us all what it's doing now as you can imagine this raises questions about what all of you get from the BBC and how you interact with it, so let's start with Ofcom Kevin Backhurst as it's group director of content and media policy and a former music at the BBC Kevin welcome to the show.

Hi Rose looking for of commas released today.

It sounds shall we say underwhelmed by how the BBC explains its actions to everyone Why

I think we feel the BBC should absolutely strive all the time to explain itself to audiences interviewers and also to be transparent to pay the licence fee and also to the rest of the creative Industries around the UK about what it's planning how it is approaching programming of delivering its mission is public purposes have enough comes all essentially is to make sure the BBC delivers what Parliament to set out the BBC which is you know it's public purposes which are across things like delivery.

I couldn't pass the news learning content is the most creative and seem to be should be secondly.

We we have a role which is probably a better now which is about to carry and content standards on are the BBC in the third one is we have to make sure anything BBC does is carefully considered in terms of its impact on on competitor.

Designing effective competition so we start from that point and what would I do with regulation has passed the BBC charger we rust review our approach to regulation as part of the chart review to feed into the government and also change aspect of how we regularly BBC and we felt that you say there's a lot of documents and there are we felt that all changed dramatically in the last 405 years the marketplace has changed dramatically audience need to change dramatically and we wanted to change the way regulator also make recommendations to the government for their review with their undertaking almost immediately before we meet our other guests let's get into some of the specific so everyone listening can understand what Ofcom is asking of the BBC so you mentioned in past that's one of the three points of emphasis, where's the BBC getting it wrong or is it just that it's not explaining how it's going about impartiality well enough.

I think the BBC has got a pretty good track record of of complying with the broadcasting code on delivering in partial content but they director-general's made it clear at the BBC news new better still on there and we would agree with that the audience audience is a lot of research as part of this review and an audience is due rate the BBC really highly for trust and accuracy rates are considerably lower for delivery in partial content and therefore we will the BBC really needs to focus on way to deliver the anal sex critically explaining how does liver in that's what I'm trying to understand.

Are you asking the BBC to change the content? It's making so it's more impartial.

Are you asking the BBC to explain how it's making its concert in I think it's more the latter of that is explaining how it's making its content in explaining where there are contentious issues around impartiality.

How it deals with those and how it has been trying to achieve an answer from Ofcom complaints because of course people complain about the BBC for a range of reasons one of them can be connected to impartiality so again Help Me Understand what is the BBC getting right but what do you want to do better?

The way audiences needs to complain to the BBC which was decided by Parliament is they need to complain to the BBC first before they come to Ofcom in the BBC has an option to deal with that is on happy in the end with hama beads seals that they can come to Ofcom so that's the process.

We feel that we have intervened already on this over last 2 years the PC is not open and transparent how it deals with complaints the type of complaint tickets and in particular.

Where is dealing with complaints around the accuracy and stability which are Critical to its news provision it should explain some more when it when it doesn't uphold complaints around impartiality.

I want to understand what you're asking the BBC to do it already published data on the number of complaints that it responds you.

Are you asking for it to publish reasoning behind Every conclusion that draws on her complaint know what to do is where there are complaints around June

Charity order accuracy which go right through the complaints process of BBC and in the end of BBC do not uphold the complaint that they probably the reason why they've not upheld complaints there's not a fuse number, but they are often important and high-profile cases and we feel it would help sustain trust in the BBC and also explained to audiences better have the research decisions say that would help build trust and we'll get into the reasons why you feel the BBC Trust trusting relationship between us audiences may be under pressure but not the main reasons those relationships around the nothing to do with whether it publishes.

How it concluded one decision or another during its complaints process.

It's because of the broader political and media landscaping with the BBC is operating as the primary Factor isn't it?

Is it's very challenging landscape the BBC on impartiality of the research reported alongside our findings the Deep dive into impartiality what the audiences think is necessary to achieve impartiality and you know there are undoubtedly other factors.

Not just the corniest coverage that the BBC delivers in terms of are.

They have received impartiality there are other important factors for example.

How old is perceive the BBC not just the news coverage undoubtedly the very fractures political environment in the UK we found that makes it very hard.

I mean there is some great stories in a research where you know there are diametrically opposed views about why the coverage is not Julie impartial.

So it is a very difficult and thirdly we found that.

The quote persistent commentary in in other areas of the media about the BBC impartiality also had still with his doubts about a lot of factors and we'll unpack them further in a minute, but let me ask about the third focus of Ofcom which is the services that the BBC provides as I understand that you're looking for a change to the BBC operating licence with a more explicit reference to find services provided.

Can you just explain to a listeners what the operating licence is and what you would like the BBC to commit to in terms of online services ensure we required what is an operating licence to the witches for for carers how the BBC delivers for audiences, so the amount of news for example it delivers on various services BBC2 a arrange another programming across TV and radio largely so far and have you was that as audiences of mood dramatically online.

Licence needs to replace a wallaby does across all its services and also wants to move away.

We've had quite a lot of quotas wanted to move away in some cases for from frutas en Linea services and make the BBC said at a really transparent way for example.

Take religious programming how it is going to deliver for audiences in the area of Cross which platforms what what amount and then measured at the end of the year so you looking for a shift in the BBC's commitments and perhaps a reimagination of her.

That's measured as well.

So these are the three points of emphasis of come today.

Kevin bacchus is going to stay with us.

He's off comms group director of content and media policy Villas BN3 gas to evaluate.

How often is communicating with the BBC today let's begin with Owen Meredith chief executive of the news media Association which represents UK national regional and local newspapers both in print and digital format.

Do you because the nma made you approach stuff come with thoughts on this review? I wonder what you told him.

Thank you for having a primary concerns around the BBC's digital approach to news and the way that it publishers in written format at news on the BBC website and how it interacts with the commercial sector governed primarily by a review another since they have looked the sustainability of the Press And independent press and April press in this country which is vitally important for all of us to society and having a BBC as a taxpayer funded organisation competing in the digital space with commercial publishers is presenting a serious.

Commercial publishers to monetize comercializar metal sustain their business models in that environment, so what we presented as part of this review I was a number of issues around that and how we think the BBC be a better car note to self help sustain the commercial sector which I think is all of our interesting long.

I consider this issue of Owen isn't the case though the DNA was concerned about the BBC having any news product in the digital Arena a few years back.

So do you just fundamentally see an issue with the operating in the space the BBC is perfectly entitled to have a digital presents a digital presents in news.

I think where the parameters need to be discussed between the commercial sector and the BBC is exactly the scope and scale of that at the moment the BBC is the largest new destination website in the UK that's not what the BBC was set up to be.

In the way that we all discover on users change the BBC needs to play Rolling in that you ecosystem to make sure it's not doesn't crowd out the lesson pack a little bit with the help of Roger Mosey master Selwyn College Cambridge University of former head of TV news at the BBC also former director of BBC Sport analysis and who's director of research agenda, which carries out independent research on the media if I could start with you isn't it inevitable that the BBC's remit has to change that it has to evolve the kind of products offers that's not something to criticise the BBC 4.

Is it no I think actually it is good that the BBC's on many digital platforms because it gives you good strong in partial news and I think it's a bit of a red herring to see that the BBC is responsible for the commercial sector which Rashi true worldwide doesn't exist in America

On local media websites are used to rely on their really thin and not really there in a proper form these days so the BBC local democracy and good for National discourse analysis as someone who analyses these things how do you assess the BBC's impact good or bad on something like newspapers at a local and national level with the commercial sector we see this is not been a zero-sum game online.

We see consumers multihoming do the just because the BBC exists that means they will not consult local media sites that they will not consult mail online for example which is another huge.

Is view not quite correct I agree with Roger that the commercial inability of independent commercial is also very important, but I don't see the BBC as being the cause of the problems.

There is always been more attractive as a commercial product digital digital yields or very low it's very difficult media sites to cover the cost of local media news Gathering with online advertising and that's true all over the world in the view that the presence of the BBC at the heart of news and current affairs supply is extremely important because it is.

Pendant of commercial concerns and Kevin bacchus from Ofcom as you listen to these three different perspectives, where is Ofcom fit into this? How do you view the limits of the BBC's digital activities should be particularly in the context of news? I think this is a really this is one of the toughest areas and it's something that we have been talking to her and colleagues and others about and you know there is a Roger says there are gaps around the UK in terms of local reporting and regional reporting and in Frankley is a lot of political pressure from around the UK for the BBC 2 Step into those gaps and serve audiences around the UK on the other hand you know we I think it's fair to say we are constantly to the BBC about how they could have more effective and better partnerships with local Media

Rather successfully running and there's are ongoing sessions, so it is the hardest is the hottest 100 for the BBC Weather for the regulated.

What about other dude is about media product in the UK and that is for all audiences around the UK and where the BBC fits into that and when it's supporting that parity and when some feel it is constraining it and there's Media show we're looking through the media regulators suggestions for the BBC particularly through 3 points of emphasis, we talk there about BBC services and how they should be defined and how perhaps they need to be limited in some circumstances.

Let's talk about complaints because Ofcom is focused on this and how the BBC deals with complaints Rodger let me bring you in here you used to be very senior at the BBC for many years doesn't lots of complaints just come with the territory of running the BBC and it's not a surprise.

I should be on the receiving end of quite a few of them size and scale of complaints.

I Confess when I was in.

I hated regulators and I hated complaints Grace's I thought on home.

She just get on with you.

Go on Roger Kevin did you used to feel that way when you were BBC executive carry on I think its rather bad as accountability the complaints process is very complicated since I've been outside.

I've made one complaint.

You just got stuck in this labyrinth of not being able to work out how it was that you got any one-track knowledge that there was a genuine issue BBC would say there's a point of contact where you can make a complaint that the complaint is logged in a set timeframe you receive a reply in the vast majority of people do is getting broader accountability about the BBC about brexit.

Pandemic and answer the thinking about some of the key issues, which illuminate that we never hear from the BBC so I don't have been see thinks it concert pandemic.

I didn't know they're all those things where and I'm not going to take a full brexit detour, but I've got several close in front of me from various directors of BBC news on how they feel the BBC covers brexit so has talked about that but on the broader issue of complaint.

He's a statement today from the BBC and by the way we did invite the BBC on to the program, but they've sent us a statement part of it reads BBC has the most thorough and transparent complaints process in UK media.

We will work with Ofcom to make further improvements to the system and Claire Enders I wonder if given that the BBC already has Commitments in place to deal with complaints is there a risk that the request being made by off Garmin Kevin and his colleagues place a further bird and a further workload on the BBC when perhaps.

Better off working out how to take on all of its media competitors the research shows that the process is not well known that many people in the UK think of complaining but don't complain because they don't know how to complain and that is really striking because as Kevin will tell you off from is only dealt with to complete since 19 and they didn't concern is knowledge and Kevin you're the one making the request to let me ask you if I Google now BBC complaints.

I'm quite easily going to end up on a page which says what would you like to say to it? So the problem is presumably not that the problem for you.

After that yeah, that's entirely right can Google it and find their way in really really easily and quickly and that and by the way in general the BBC vs.

The right way to deal with complaints however once I get into the system.

They get lost and is Rodger said it is really labyrinthine for audiences.

That's what I research shows that they are in the process.

They don't like the tone of language.

They get any responses from the BBC many of them when we do when we were discussing this for the BBC the BBC is the measure of our success that people don't come through two of them that much of the end our research shows people that country because they give up the ghost going through BBC complaints process and don't really understand where they know how to dance well as I say in the BBC has defended its complaints process but also says it's willing to work further with you to make you know I'm not sure it's always.

The BBC's more transparent than other broadcasters for a good reason that the only one who receives 5 million pounds of public money and they should be and I don't think it's always really helpful that the knee-jerk is we really doing a brilliant job is better sometimes to look at the evidence which is all we do is an independent regulator and see where you can improve once they have said we will work with Ofcom on this so I imagine you're going to be having further conversations with the three areas.

Where are looking at services complaints Netflix consider impartiality we've heard from Ofcom chief.

Executive today saying it to BBC clear please to address widespread perceptions about its impartiality and Meredith from the news media Association do agree with that there is a a perception issue for the BBC here.

Yeah, I mean it's not really my place to be coming on this but I think there is definitely at reception.

I wonder if it is given that many of your members of perhaps responsible party for that perception because of course newspapers have plenty to say about what the BBC isn't doing the publishing industry businesses does not the editorial line that used to take individually but do you think more broadly though that the way the BBC positions itself within UK media which is relevant to your industry is impacted negatively by perceptions that it's not as impartial as it ought to be going back to a wider argument because if the BBC focus on the core Services news.

I'm not over stretching its ambitions into analysis comment opinion and wish I think it often strays into I'm going to interrupt my

Barclays analysis editor BBC News we do analysis as well as reporting that's part of journalism.

Not just saying that something has happened, but explaining why it has consequences.

I think that's where the issues often arise BBC needs to reconsider and address.

There is a public concern and I think it goes back to an earlier.

I was saying the BBC at work in partnership with the commercial sector and I don't pick up and see the BBC is the full problem be a better partner to industry and if I could bring you in here.

I'm very interested in this idea that the BBC has a perception problem.

That's Ofcom saying that if there is a perception problem who's responsible the is that if the BBC is being impartial does it still need to respond to the fact that it has a reception problem whether that's fair or not.

Yes, I don't think there's a crisis but there is.

Set me a set of challenges, I should just say I have literally just making a book about this and a whole question about impartiality and how is it in a modern digital age is Tim Davie has said there was problems on the BBC does believe there is a problem and I think that when you refer back to brexit and the BBC make a statement saying that all jolly good.

I'd like some and the 2019 General Election coverage and my question is you believe service really matters as I do you have to make it better and have you supposed to be not just where the market is it supposed to be better than well, what does better look like Roger let's get into the detail here.

What does BBC journalism and BBC content need to do to demonstrate its impartiality that it's not doing at the moment.

Is multiple sets of reasons one in a x is that this too much robotic balance someone says this someone says that I think what people want is the kind of and see where is the truth about it in the world now.

Where are alien? Anything was Public Service Broadcasting how does public service rebuild itself? I should also point out that the idea of the BBC towards the left is one that is often mentioned and yet lots of colleagues have left the BBC to go work for political parties on the right-hand side of the political spectrum as well as the as well as the left, but you mentioned politics Roger let's bring that in and Alexander's from Enders analysis you can help me with this Nadine dorries tweet the culture secretary has retweeted what I have to say.

Earlier on and she says being open transparent and impartial is vital to the BBC maintaining trust the BBC my significantly improve its Handling of complaints ofcom's report will feed into the BBC mid-term as a national broadcaster the BBC must deliver for its audiences now Alice Enders is it inevitable weather Ofcom intended it or not that this review becomes instantly political it's inevitable but I would like to add to be you no comments that we are living in a very opinionated in polarised environment finding the highlighted more today and in that context if a person doesn't see their opinion reflective view that is an issue of impartiality sitting on the fence in a funny way is taking a position that is what many.

And you see this in commercial radio which is far more opinionated when they're dealing with news and current affairs I know because I'm supposed to be the person gets beat up on the media and I just think that's just where we are as a society and it's just in the UK but more general in which case let's ask him back that given that's where we are Kevin given that lots of broadcasters LBC GB news and others have presented to express opinions but across their output you deem them to be balanced by the time the BBC go that way too.

BBC you know is has unique positioning British life unique funding system and unique accountability and you know you regardless as well, which go beyond the Ofcom guidelines and rightly so and the BBC in many ways suspenders or should set the standards for things like accuracy and impartiality and to come out your point about the politics and charger review play I mean part of the function of the charger reviews to help trying form.

Review is that riding see what I'm saying is an independent regulator we're trying to bring the evidence to the discussion.

We look to the evidence and represent it, but I don't really have interactions with the government while you're putting this review together not about the specifics of it know about about the mechanism, but not about what we put interview which is Holy our own work and and

The output was saying that we're going to have to leave it.

I'd like to talk to a lot more, but the media shows half an hour long so the Radio 4 schedule of course doesn't extend for any of us.

Thank you very much indeed for talking to us.

That's coming back as group director of content and media policy of gone and Meredith chief executive of the news media Association Roger Mosey master of Selwyn College Cambridge University former head of TV news at the BBC and Alice Enders director of research at Enders analysis, you'll be able to get this edition of the media show all of our auditions as a podcast through BBC sounds, what's the moment thanks for listening and bye bye.

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