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News to be reviewed

BBC ‘not sufficiently transparent’ says media watchdog

Laura Kuenssberg BBC

BBC news output will be subject to review


BBC bosses have been told that the corporation is too opaque and that it must do more to attract young audiences to enable it to adapt to the changing news environment.

In its first annual report on the state-owned broadcaster since taking on responsibility for its performance, Ofcom says the BBC is not sufficiently transparent, particularly in the area of competition.

It says it fails to routinely explain planned changes in its public service activities in sufficient detail to potentially affected parties.

“The BBC board should drive improvements here,” says Ofcom, outlining four key demands for change.

“The BBC’s governance arrangements need to ensure sufficient separation between the BBC’s public service and its commercial activities. We have raised some concerns about the governance of the BBC’s commercial activities, which should be more transparent.

“We note that the BBC has indicated its intention to enhance transparency in this area.”

Ofcom says that the BBC can distinguish itself through original programmes that reflect UK lives and experiences, but adds that it “should be more innovative and take more risks in doing so”

It calls for “significant further steps to engage young people” and notes that BBC recognises it is “not currently doing enough, quickly enough, to reach young people, who are critical to its future success.”

Ofcom’s report says: “It needs to take significant steps to address this issue, to ensure it delivers content that appeals in ways that suit and reflect young people’s viewing and listening habits.”

It also calls on the corporation to continue improving how it represents and portrays the whole of UK society.

“Our review of representation and portrayal on BBC television has found that the BBC (and TV in general) is better at representing and portraying a wider mix of people than it used to be. But it has further to go in representing and portraying different audiences authentically.

Separately, Ofcom will review the BBC’s news and current affairs output, stating that it is performing well as the most-used source of news and current affairs in the UK and with audiences rating it highly for providing high-quality, trustworthy and accurate news.

“The growing use of online news, and questions about the trustworthiness of some online news sources, heighten the importance of the BBC’s role as a trusted provider,” it says.

“In view of this, we are carrying out a review of the BBC’s news and current affairs output, and how it is adapting to the changing news environment.”

Ofcom found that more than nine in ten adults access BBC content each week; and on average estimates that people spend around 2 hours 45 minutes with the BBC every day. Audience satisfaction with the BBC remains relatively high.

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