Friday, February 08, 2008

Editorial decisions and impartiality - Part 1

Today is Grange Hill's 30th birthday (2006 link)

In May 2006 CBBC's Richard Deverell announced that Byker Grove was to be axed. Newsround received a large number of messages about the news, mostly unhappy with CBBC, and Richard Deverell was asked to appear on the programme to answer questions from viewers about the decision. I commented that Newsround had showed just how relevant a programme it could be (see blog 13 May 2006). Mr Deverell was asked some quite probing questions.

Back then it seemed that the CBBC was prepared to treat its audience with a modicum of respect, even if the reasons given for axing Byker were a little hazy. One reason for the axing, Ellie said, was CBBC wanting to focus more on shows aimed at younger children of primary school age.

On 6 February 2008, another iconic children's programme was given the push and it was first reported on Newsround's website. It was also the first news item on Newsround itself at 3.55pm, but by 5.25pm the news was relegated to the last item. There was no live interview, but as part of Lizo's filmed report Anne Gilchrist, CBBC controller, attempted to explain Grange Hill's demise: It's been going now for 31 series, and I think it's time to say goodbye to it, just because we want to do other new things. And we feel that children do other things apart from go to school, and we wanted to explore areas in children's lives that happen outside the school arena.

BBC editorial guidelines are clear that when an item of news concerns the BBC or its programmes, the report must be impartial, and they say "We need to ensure that our impartiality is not brought into question." CBBC's failure to report Phil Redmond's recent and self-evidently germane remarks does call the BBC's impartiality into question. Professor Redmond could have been invited to Newsround's studio and asked to explain why he would not be celebrating Grange Hill's 30th anniversary, and had instead called for his programme to be axed.

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