Thursday, November 26, 2009

Revision of BBC Editorial Policy - part 1

A meeting between the BBC's Director-general and the BBC Trust was held on Thursday 30 October 2008. It was part of a damage limitation exercise following public outrage at the behaviour of Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand on a Radio 2 show. The Director-general made it clear that there had been a serious breach of editorial compliance which should never have happened.

A plan was put in place to take the heat off the BBC, which at the time was being battered by the press. One measure adopted was to request a study into the appropriate boundaries of taste and standards across all BBC output. The next day Sir Michael Lyons was interviewed by a skeptical John Humphrys. Sir Michael said that the BBC must be firmer on excesses, and there was a "need for even stricter editorial controls."

A report was published on 24 June 2009 entitled Taste, Standards and the BBC (blog 24 June 2009). It cost licence fee payers £288,456.28 excluding the cost of BBC staff effort. The Report's conclusions inform the Draft Editorial Guidelines (pdf), which are the subject of a Trust consultation, closing in four weeks' time.

Contrary to Sir Michael's intention, as given in his interview with John Humphrys, Newsround Blog believes that the new draft guidelines are in reality weaker than the current guidelines. A significant change has been made, such that the proposed guidelines have less weight because their authority is seriously diminished. This will be explained in the next part.

Consultation timeline (taken from BBC Trust Terms of reference (pdf))

October 2009 - Draft of the new Editorial Guidelines published and public consultation launched

October to December 2009 - Trust Unit gathers information from BBC Executive, public consultation, audience research, outcome of the implementation of the Audio Visual Media Services Directive in UK legislation, outcome of the current Ofcom Broadcasting Code consultation, and other sources

24 December 2009 - Public consultation closes

January to March 2010 - Trust analyses data

Spring 2010 - Trust considers findings from the data and implications for the Editorial Guidelines

Summer 2010 - New Editorial Guidelines finalised and published

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